Working full-time, the struggle is real for LPNs trying to get their RN.
Throw in family and the rest that life has to offer and it gets easier and easier to postpone your dreams.
Leaders at Western Oklahoma State College recognized that reality and answered the call to bring quality, affordable and convenient nursing education to those that needed it.
And as an added bonus, it’s helped Southwest Oklahoma facilities find the trained staff they need. (story continues below)
“We really feel that our nursing program has a strong tie to workforce,” said Chrystal Overton, M.S., R.N. and Vice President for Academic Affairs at WOSC. “I feel in our state Gov. Stitt is really pushing workforce development with colleges and universities and we feel like nursing is one of those programs that has that tie.”
Located in Altus, Western Oklahoma State College was originally established as Altus Junior College in 1926, and is the oldest original municipal two-year college in Oklahoma. On August 16, 1974, Altus Junior College became Western Oklahoma State College by an act of the state legislatures.
The school’s nursing program began in 1981 and graduated its first class in 1983.
Two other locations are also offered: one in Lawton, housed at Cameron University and the other in Elk City, housed on the campus of Great Plains Regional Medical Center.
Accredited by the National League of Nursing Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation, the school offers a traditional program for general students and advanced standing placement for LPNs. A full-time day program is offered at each campus along with the LPN to RN online track offering an online didactic with face-to-face clinicals.
The evening track at the Lawton campus began last year through a partnership with Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
The fall of 2018 was the first online offering for LPNs to advance their education. No driving around after work and no classroom to sit in.
“This was very successful,” said Stacey Machado, DNP, RN, and the Director of Nursing Education at Western Oklahoma State College.
The first cohort of 28 students graduated in May 2019 from the LPN-RN online program that included a clinical component.
In the fall of 2019, WOSC brought in its first cohort of students in the evening track at Lawton.
Now 18 more are on track to graduate in the spring of 2021.
This evening program is a great option for many students. Having this additional option for students will increase the capacity at Western and as well as help provide southwest Oklahoma with the Registered Nurses needed to maintain healthcare in the rural parts of the state.
The program also had a goal of collaborating with clinical affiliates so students would have immediate options for work.
“It absolutely made sense,” said Machado. “Our goal when our students graduate is they are immediately ready to go after passing boards. Also we wanted them to have an opportunity to work at their clinical sites.”
The plan has been a win for everyone. Students are getting the hands-on experience they need and are able to scope out where they feel like they will fit in.
The clinical sites get on-the-job feedback to make offers before graduation. Machado knows facilities appreciate her students.
“A lot of feedback we get from area hospital nurses, managers and directors is that our students come out as great critical thinkers,” Machado said. “They’re self-reliant and able to get on the floor … and show they’ve come out of a program that has rigor in the training process.”
The application window for the next spring period will begin November 1 for any returning or transfer students coming into nursing.
Applications for the following fall will open in December.
“To obtain an associate degree that leads to a high wage, high skill career and career is phenomenal,” Overton said of the opportunity. “They can decrease the amount of student loan debt they have and be able to go out into the workforce after passing boards.
“That’s pretty critical. A large number of students do go on for their bachelor’s and some their master’s. When you look at the economy and concern with high student loan debt, our program really makes sense.”
Machado said the school’s curriculum is aligned with most bachelor’s programs meaning students won’t be slowed down by having to take more prerequisites later on down the road.
For more information go to: https://www.wosc.edu/index.php?page=nursing-admission