OUS, CCC focus on nursing programs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ohio University Southern and Collins Career Center formally announced their new partnership on Tuesday, the first product of which will be a new program designed to fill a shortage of nurses.

The LPN to RN Career Mobility Initiative, which will roll out in January of 2007 and is jointly administered by the two schools, will allow licensed practical nurses to receive their associate of nursing degree after a few bridging classes (that take one quarter) and a year of study.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of the program is that LPNs will not have to quit working to participate, thanks to its several online courses. Currently, the full-time program makes it practically impossible to work and receive the degree, which prepares students to become registered nurses.

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“We knew that there were a lot of nurses out there that needed a new delivery system,” said Debbie Meehan, Associate Director of Nursing at OUS. “This is a new way for them to get their RN while working and taking care of their families.”

OUS will continue to offer its traditional one-year full-time RN program, as well as a two-year version for students with no nursing experience.

The push to make becoming an RN easier may have come just in time. According to the Ohio Board of Nursing, there has been a steep decline in the last decade. In 1995, there were 4,456 new RN licenses issued in Ohio. In 2003, there were 3,060, which translates to a 31% decrease.

But what may have a more far-reaching effects is the fact that the two schools are working together at all.

It was recommended in 2005 by the Ohio Board of Regents that the two schools work together, though CCC had been pushing to become a community college. To help facilitate the collaboration, the board offered $25,000 to mount the new program, a figure to which OUS and CCC have both committed $60,000.

Although Collins Superintendent Steve Dodgion said that the collaboration was a “direct result” of that ruling, the two emphasized that this was the next logical step for both schools.

“We’ve been talking about collaborating on certain programs for some time,” said OUS Dean Dan Evans. “This one just seemed like the low-hanging fruit, a real opportunity for us to get together and begin a process of collaboration that will lead to more.”

Evans said that the schools are investigating other health-related programs that they could cooperate on, but also in other fields like engineering.

But for now, all eyes will be on the 25 students enrolled in this program to see if this “low-hanging fruit” is just the first the two schools can reach.