For more than two decades, there has been a shortage of licensed practical nurses and registered nurses in Oklahoma. Today, Oklahoma does not have enough nurses to meet the needs of critically ill COVID-19 patients and continue to meet the in-patient and out-patient needs of medical-surgical, pediatric, neonatal and other types of patients, too. Health system nurse executives and their academic partners are collaborating to address this acute shortage. (story continues below)
One strategy being used in Oklahoma to increase the number of available registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) is the offering of a Nurse Refresher Course by the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing at the University of Oklahoma in collaboration with Oklahoma Career Tech System. This course is designed to update nursing knowledge and skills to meet continuing qualifications for practice as required by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing.
Recently, based on changes in policy made by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, the Nurse Refresher Course has been revised to use a competency-based framework in which specific knowledge and skill outcomes are used to evaluate achievement. This methodology recognizes that students learn differently and may require a different amount of time to achieve competency requirements of the course.
The updated Nurse Refresher Course allows students to move through the course at their own pace, while focusing on their specific learning needs to meet continuing qualifications for practice as required by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. After completing the online didactic portion of the course, students may now complete the skills and clinical experience portion of the course in as little as 40 hours. Using a competency-based framework and reducing the number of clinical hours decreases learning and time barriers and potentially increases the number of available registered RNs and LPNs for Oklahoma.
Oklahoma nurses seeking to return to practice and/or refresh their nursing knowledge and skills should review the Oklahoma Board of Nursing Instructions for reinstatement or return to active status of RN or LP single-state license (https://nursing.ok.gov/reinstateappl07.pdf) and the Oklahoma Board of Nursing Refresher Course Policy (https://nursing.ok.gov/refresher.pdf). Contacting the Oklahoma Board of Nursing is also encouraged to ensure enrollment in the Nurse Refresher Course meets the continuing qualifications for practice requirements for one’s particular situation.
To register for the Nurse Refresher Program, contact an approved Career Tech Center and complete an application. Additional information about the Oklahoma Board of Nursing Board-Approved Refresher Courses can be found at https://www.okcareertech.org/educators/health-careers-education/documents/Nurse.Refresher.Flyer.October.2020.pdf. Course fee is $2,000 and includes access to the online course, lab and simulated clinical experience components.
With the COVID-19 pandemic surge, creating a way for nurses to update their knowledge and skills and meet the continuing qualifications for practice is one strategy nurse leaders have implemented to increase the number of available registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) for Oklahoma.