OU Southern gearing up for nursing program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 6, 2003

This fall, 40 future nurses could be strolling into Ohio University Southern.

OUS will be offering an associate degree in nursing. Approximately 200 people have already applied for the program, but only 40 will be admitted, Dr. Dan Evans, OUS dean, said. The university is still receiving applications for the highly competitive program with a selective admission process.

According to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, registered nursing is the second largest health care occupation, and is one of 10 occupational fields that will have the most new jobs. The median income for the occupation is $44,840 per year.

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For some time, the university has offered a baccalaureate completion program for those with an associate degree in nursing. Now, a student can obtain an associate degree, then go through the completion program. Theoretically, OUS will have a four-year nursing program, Evans said.

"This now gives a student a full range of educational opportunity," he said. "They can start off here and stay here to complete the program."

Most of the associate degree classes can be completed in an Ironton classroom, while the baccalaureate classes are a blend of traditional coursework and distance learning from OU's main campus in Athens. The baccalaureate students are likely to be already working as nurses and going through the program for advancement and career enhancement purposes without leaving the region, Evans said.

Many of the program's applicants are licensed practical nurses (LPNs). If an LPN is admitted, he or she will be admitted into the second year of the program and have sophomore status, Evans said. Those students will need to take a transitional course over the summer.

Before the end of the academic year, the university hopes to have hired a full-time nursing director, Evans said. Barbara Montgomery, director of the Chillicothe branch's program is acting as a transitional director until a director is found. The job description has been written already, and advertising will begin soon.

Also, Holzer Clinic, Southern Ohio Medical Center, King's Daughters Medical Center, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital have expressed an interest in helping OUS develop clinical sites, Evans said.

"There is a nursing shortage at the time, and they want to be a part of the solution," he said.