State Funds Key in Nursing Shortage
Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Mary Spilde
Our community faces a shortage of well-trained nurses, a problem thoroughly documented in a recent series in The Register-Guard. This is a challenge shared by the state and nation as our population grows and ages. All of us need and deserve high-quality nursing care. Lane Community College has been pursuing proactive strategies to address this challenge.
Lane is the only provider of associate degree nursing education in Lane County. A large majority of our graduates stay in Lane County to meet the local labor force demand. Our students are tremendously successful despite the rigors and expense of training or the limitations imposed on the college's insufficient public funding.
Our nursing graduates are among the nation's best, achieving a 96.43 percent pass rate on their national licensure exams - much higher than the national average of 85.05 percent or the state average of 89.68 percent. Still, to do more and meet current and future training demands, we need the support of the community and the state.
With two new hospitals being built in the Eugene-Springfield area, Lane County will be a hub for health care services in the southern Willamette Valley. Integral to the success of our local hospitals is a supply of high-quality, well-trained health care professionals, especially nurses.
Nursing training is one of the costliest programs that LCC provides. The wrenching decline in state revenue for community colleges over the past several years has presented challenges in supporting expensive programs. Nonetheless, Lane has made a commitment to increasing health care education and being the center of excellence for health care education in our region.
Lane's elected board recognizes the college's role in training nurses and other health care professionals, including paramedics, respiratory therapists, medical office assistants and physical therapy assistants. The board has approved curricula and partnerships to ensure that Lane continues to be part of the solution. Here are some of things we're doing:
Lane joined the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education and began offering this opportunity to students last fall. This program allows Lane students to complete their associate's degree and enter practice or continue their education through Oregon Health and Science University and achieve a bachelor's degree in one more year without leaving the area.
This is important to our students because many are parents and working people who need to keep their jobs and families going while increasing their skills and employability. Through OCNE, we offer prerequisites and curriculum common to 11 other community colleges in the state as well as OHSU. …