A two-year degree in Registered Nursing (RN) may soon be available to students in Klamath and Lake Counties, following a recent agreement between Klamath Community College and Lake Health District. Once completed, program curriculum would specialize in rural nursing. A signing ceremony marking the finalization of the agreement will be held in the KCC boardroom Tuesday, October 22, at 10:00 a.m.
“This is training that is needed in order to have qualified people to fill these positions right here in our own communities,” said KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez. “It would be extremely difficult for either KCC or Lake District Hospital to make this happen on its own, but by identifying ways to work together and partner, we are able to better serve the communities of both Klamath and Lake Counties.”
Lake Health District will provide budgetary resources of up to $225,000 for three years, make available a clinical site, and provide classroom space, including up to two beds at Lake District Hospital or at the Innovation and Learning Center in Lakeview. Lake Health District will also assist in coordinating housing for students who may need to relocate.
“There is still a lot of work to complete before this program is up and running, but this partnership allows the two organizations to work together to get started on that process,” Dr. Gutierrez said. Under the agreement, KCC will be responsible for applying for RN accreditation candidacy, developing specialized rural nursing curriculum, and ensuring curricular alignment from its existing Licensed Practical Nursing program, among other things.
“The RN program will be aligned with our existing LPN program so there is no loss of credits,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “Students who have gone through our LPN program will be able to apply all of that coursework directly to the RN program. We are already in the process of identifying a university partner so the same transition will be available from the two-year RN program to a Bachelor of Science Nursing program as well.”
Charlie Tveit, CEO of Lake Health District, expressed that the Health District has experienced very positive retention of homegrown nurses. “We have found that these types of programs being available for our region are a good investment, providing opportunities for employing and retaining quality staff for the hospital, long-term care unit, home health and hospice,” he said.
According to Tveit, numerous Lake County residents and hospital staff are already taking prerequisites through KCC with plans to enroll in the RN program once it becomes available. “We have quite a number that are in that pipeline right now,” he said.
Registered nursing jobs are some of the most in-demand in the state of Oregon, with data from the Oregon Employment Department indicating that the number of needed registered nurses in the state will climb by nearly 25 percent by 2020. The average annual salary for those positions will climb to over $80,000 per year, according to the state.
“These are jobs that are in high demand right here in Klamath and Lake Counties as well as across the state and even the country,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “This program will not only help those students who go through it, but will benefit our communities as well.”