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OU renews pledge to take 'all qualified applicants' for nursing program next year

OU renews pledge to take 'all qualified applicants' for nursing program next year

Published: Monday, December 19, 2022

Continuing an effort to relieve the shortage of nurses across the state, the University of Oklahoma will again accept all eligible applicants for its College of Nursing next year, officials told the Tulsa World this week.

The college ordinarily takes only about 20% of applicants, but last year it accepted all 555 students who met the admission requirements.

“We didn’t lower standards,” said Dean Julie Hoff. “We decided that we would accommodate everyone who met the prerequisites.”

Some of the admitted students, however, ultimately chose to go to different schools, putting this fall’s enrollment at 460, an increase of 103 students in the undergraduate nursing program, Hoff said.

To keep the same quality of education with the higher enrollment, OU added 10 full-time faculty positions and brought in “a host of adjunct faculty” to keep class sizes the same, she said. "We've made a lot of investment in facilities, " Hoff said. "And we've made huge investments in simulation. We have one of the most state-of-the-art simulation programs in the state."

The college is now taking applications for fall ’23 and again will not turn away any qualified applicants, Hoff said. She expects next fall’s enrollment to remain about the same as this year’s.

While boosting undergraduate enrollment, OU’s nursing program has also been growing the number of graduate students, who earn the advanced degrees necessary to teach at the college level.

“You can’t build one side of the equation without building the other, Hoff said, explaining that graduate enrollment skyrocketed from 144 last year to 205 this fall.

Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation in nurses per capita. Among other effects, the shortage limits the number of patients that hospitals can accept even if beds are available.

The new nursing students will reach the workforce as soon as June 2024, or even August ’23 for those who choose the accelerated program. But Oklahoma will have to ensure that the new nurses remain in the state, Hoff said.

“Create really wonderful, inviting work environments that are flexible,” she urged employers. “Meet the nurses where they and create the kind of workplace they desire, where they can continue to learn and grow.”

Michael Overall is a reporter for the Tulsa World.  Original article published in the Tulsa World.