Klamath Community College has cleared a major hurdle in the development of a registered nursing program, after the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN) granted the college and its partner, Lake Health District, approval to continue developing a registered nursing program with an emphasis on rural nursing.
Officials from KCC and Lake Health District traveled to Portland recently where they presented details of the proposed program before representatives of OSBN. Due to the intricate nature of the curriculum involved in any RN program, the accreditation and approval process is particularly detailed and painstaking. The Board granted a letter of intent and preliminary approval following KCC’s presentation. The letter and preliminary approval grant KCC permission to continue developing curriculum for the program.
“We are very pleased with the result of our presentation,” said KCC President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez. “Though we have a lot of work yet to complete before the program is ready to offer, this was a major step that had to be completed.” OSBN will perform a site visit at KCC in September as part of the accreditation process. The program must also be approved by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, as well as the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development.
Key to the successful presentation was convincing OSBN of the need for an associate-level RN program in this region. “The students who graduate this program will be working as nurses right here in our own communities and across the state,” Dr. Gutierrez said. “Though the process for having the program approved is very thorough, that’s exactly how it should be. Any program that will be training healthcare workers needs to be carefully vetted.”
If the rest of the accreditation process goes as planned, and initial approval is granted in September, KCC will offer its first RN cohort beginning with the 2015 winter term. Final approval and state accreditation occur after the first cohort has graduated and taken national exams.
“The ability to have a registered nursing program for residents of isolated, rural counties would be an enormous asset for us,” said Lake Health District CEO Charlie Tveit. “Graduates of an RN program from one of our communities are much more likely to stay here, as they have families and ties to the area.” Once final approval is granted, KCC’s program will be the only registered nursing program in the state with an emphasis on rural nursing.
“This would not have been possible without a strong partnership between KCC and Lake Health District,” said Dr. Gutierrez. “We are very appreciative of all that they have done to move this process along, including providing $225,000 in program start-up funds to make this possible.”