Health Professions Division Expanding Facilities, Looking To Hire New Nursing Instructors

By Caleb Barrick – Pioneer Reporter

OCCC recently announced a spatial expansion of its nursing program. The current facilities will be expanded to create more space for labs and clinicals.

Nursing Professor, Traci Boren, says that the plan to remodel was actually in place before the COVID-19 pandemic. An entire building was initially planned to be erected, though budget constraints led to the idea being scrapped in favor of the expansion of current facilities.

Although the expansion of the nursing program does not involve an increase in applicants, Boren was sure to point out that the program is always looking to increase its number of applicants in the wake of the nursing shortage. Boren says that the shortage of nurses began before the pandemic as nurses with graduate degrees have more incentives to remain in the healthcare field than they do to become nursing educators. This means fewer educators are available to train aspiring nurses. 

Boren added that COVID-19 simply added another level of stress to nurses already working in a hospital setting, often attending to more patients at once than they should. She stressed that there are multiple pathways to get admitted into the program and encouraged students to work closely with their advisors.

“I would say definitely start working with an advisor early on to make sure that they’re spacing their courses appropriately, to make sure that they’re on track to apply as soon as they can, and make sure that they understand how they achieve points,” said Boren. 

Professor Traci Boren (Courtesy Photo).

She added that those applying to the program want to do everything they can to make themselves the most eligible in order to be admitted to the program. They also need to explore which track is appropriate for their career goals.

Boren believes in order to grow the profession a “multi-pronged” approach will be necessary. 

“We’re going to have to be able to expand our idea of what is acceptable for clinical education. Of course, financial incentives are probably always appropriate for them attracting enough faculty and to train new nurses. It’s very difficult to find a highly qualified nurse to come and teach, especially now when they can go and travel and do clinical nursing for 2 to 3 times what they would get paid to come in and teach.”

Although there is a shortage of nurses willing to teach, she credited the high quality of OCCC’s program and high graduation rate to the professors of the Health Professions Division, and commended OCCC for allowing them to develop as educators. OCCC’s Nursing Program has the highest number of graduates in the state of Oklahoma.

The deadline to enroll in the 2022 Traditional Fall Cohort is April 1. The deadline to enroll in the 2022 Baccalaureate to Associate Degree Accelerated Pathway (BADNIP) Fall Cohort is the first Feb. 4.