SEPTEMBER 17, 2003

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Western, Cameron collaborate to increase number of qualified nurses in area hospitals

Western Oklahoma State College and Cameron University have become educational partners in an effort to alleviate Southwest Oklahoma’s nursing shortage. The project is a unique collaboration of public and private resources to increase the number of qualified registered nurses at a time of critical need.

The venture would not be possible with the support of the local medical community. Four area hospitals will completely finance the set-up and salary costs, sparing Cameron and Western at a time when state funding is critically low. Medical partners in this initiative are Comanche County Memorial Hospital and Southwestern Medical Center in Lawton, Duncan Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital and Physicians Group in Frederick.

The implementation cost is expected to top $400,000 for the first year and $300,000 during the second year.

“The agreement is a wonderful collaborative effort involving two higher education institutions, a very supportive medical community, and the technology centers that often send their students to us for training as registered nurses,” said WOSC president Randy Cumby. “The agreement has the full support of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, who highly encourage pooling our resources to meet the needs of the community.”

Research indicates that Southwest Oklahoma’s current output of registered nurses is inadequate. Critical shortages are being reported from all sectors of the health care community. The opening of Lawton’s new veteran’s hospital will also significantly increase the demand for qualified staff.

In accordance with the agreement, the CU-WOSC partnership includes the following:

Western’s faculty — based at Cameron — will provide registered nursing instruction and supervise the required clinical experiences in Lawton hospitals.

Nursing students living in and around Lawton will achieve the prerequisite general education and support courses via coursework taken at Cameron. That coursework, in turn, can be fully transferred toward an associate degree in nursing at Western

Nursing instruction will be provided by two new faculty at Cameron, as well as via interactive distance learning originating from WOSC’s campus. It is expected that CU instructors will also teach classes at Western via distance education.

Students completing the registered nursing program will be awarded an associate degree from WOSC.

WOSC degree recipients can continue working toward a bachelor’s degree by applying to a University of Oklahoma nursing program taught at Cameron.

During the first year of the agreement, WOSC will provide instruction for sophomore level students, with instruction expanded to include freshmen in 2004-2005. With this plan in place, Western estimates that 10-15 nursing students will graduate in May 2004, and 20-25 students will graduate in May 2005.

“Southwest Oklahoma thrives on partnerships. The collaboration of higher education and the medical community is a true blend of public and private resources,” said CU President Cindy Ross. “The program is consistent with Cameron’s commitment to development region’s work force and it also complements our partnership with OU to increase the number of health care professionals through its nursing program on our campus.”

Contact: Keith Mitchell, 580.581.2211 or Alice Newman, 580.477.7701