Rogue Community College (RCC) has been awarded a Workforce Ready: Innovation in Workforce Programs Grant of $969,722 by the Higher Education Coordination Commission. This grant, distributed over three years, is aimed at enhancing RCC’s nursing program to meet the surging demand for registered nurses (RNs) while improving nursing education and reinforcing the local healthcare workforce.
RCC’s project partners, Providence Medford Medical Center and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, are set to collaborate on this initiative. Director of Asante Nursing Professional Development, Anne Hansen, DNP, RN, expressed excitement about strengthening the partnership, stating, “Asante is excited to strengthen our partnership with Rogue Community College by providing nursing adjunct faculty to help support the growth of the school’s health care program and offer excellent training experiences.”
The impact of this award is expected to be substantial, particularly in a time when there is a critical need for more nurses. RCC’s Dean of Instruction, Health and Public Services, Dave Koehler, affirmed, “The award will have a significant impact on the college, its students, and the community, at a time when there is a strong demand for more nurses.”
Recent findings from the Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative (OLDC) underline the pressing demand for registered nurses statewide. Current training programs are unable to produce enough graduates to meet this demand, with only 23% of qualified applicants gaining admission to RN programs.
This RN shortage is also acutely felt at the local level, with Providence Medford Medical Center having 40 open RN positions, and Asante reporting 347 vacant RN positions within their healthcare system. Kate Kitchell, Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Medford Medical Center, emphasized the significance of supporting RCC’s nursing program, stating, “Providence is proud to walk alongside RCC as they grow their nursing program. We know that nursing students who attend school in Southern Oregon often stay for the duration of their career. It’s imperative that education and industry partners meet the needs of our growing community.”
To address these challenges, RCC is implementing a three-fold strategy, which includes improving simulation education, obtaining program accreditation, and addressing the pay gap for clinical faculty.
Hansen from Asante underlined the importance of these initiatives by saying, “Reducing barriers to educational opportunities and bolstering our local workforce builds on Asante’s mission to provide quality health care services in a compassionate manner valued by the communities we serve.”
Historically, Workforce Ready Grants have advanced opportunities to recruit and retain a diverse workforce in key sectors of Oregon’s economy, including healthcare. These grants invest in new and innovative education and training programs that focus on partnerships and provide support to job training participants.
Dave Koehler summarized the collaborative effort, stating, “The RCC Registered Nursing program is among the best in the state. Together, RCC, Asante, and Providence Medford are excited to expand the capacity of the RCC RN program through an innovative cost-sharing initiative that enables practicing RNs at these hospitals to act as clinical faculty.” This innovative approach is expected to have a positive impact on both the college and the local community, contributing to the growth of the nursing profession in Southern Oregon.