7:13 p.m. PST November 23, 2015
Of Oregon’s 38,258 nurses, only 43 percent have a bachelor of science in nursing degree.
Chemeketa Community College and Linfield College are working to help change that.
Across the country, nursing educators are striving to equip 80 percent of the nurses in the U.S. with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Research shows that higher levels of education in nursing lead to higher quality of care for patients, said Melissa Jones, associate professor of nursing at Linfield.
When nurses have more education, Jones said, there is improved coordination of care, patients are better able to manage their own health, and survival rates increase at hospitals.
Chemeketa and Linfield are creating a new hybrid nursing program to help nurses in Oregon continue their education while allowing freedom in their schedule.
The two colleges will offer a new class beginning in February to help nurses with an associate’s degree take the first step toward earning their bachelor’s. The hybrid class will combine online instruction with three hours a week in a classroom on Chemeketa’s Salem campus.
The hybrid class allows students to gain experience with online learning, maintain flexible schedules and have the opportunity to develop a face-to-face learning community, Jones said.
The skills taught go beyond what these nurses have studied before, Jones said.
Organizers of the class said it will enhance students’ professional development, develop nurses’ skills in family and community health, and prepare students for success in an online RN-BSN program.
Enrollment is limited to 24 students for the pilot program. Organizers hope to expand the program in future years.
“The intention of this class is for students to get their toes wet,” said Greg Harris, a spokesman for Chemeketa.
The class is one of many needed to complete the degree, but Harris said organizers hope students have a successful experience with this class and feel more comfortable pursuing high levels of nursing education afterward — whether through the partnership or another program.
The program would not have been possible without the work of both schools, Jones said.
“We need each other,” Jones said. “This just adds another layer of partnership.”
By partnering, Linfield has access to the new nursing students at Chemeketa, and Chemeketa can better guide students to further education.
Harris said Chemeketa has partnered with Linfield for more than a decade.
“We have a history of collaboration, so it was a natural fit,” he said.
The partnership began, Harris said, because of the schools’ proximity to one another and the fact that each had something the other needed — Linfield has the RN-BSN program that Chemeketa cannot offer, and Chemeketa has the new nursing students just beginning their associate’s degree.
Linfield faculty will teach at the Chemeketa location, while the rest of the courses are offered online via Linfield.
“I hope (the students) are able to achieve a professional level of development and growth,” Jones said. “I hope they are inspired to move into higher levels of nursing or graduate programs.”
Jones had her associate’s degree for years before she went to Linfield for the RN-BSN program, which then inspired her to go on to graduate school.
“It can be very transformational,” she said. “The nurses in the program see an increase of confidence and role satisfaction.”
For more information about the class, call (503) 883-2478 for Jessica Cunningham in the Linfield admission office.
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