The registered nursing program at Umpqua Community College has been certified by the Oregon State Board of Nursing for eight years.
April Myler, UCC director of nursing, said the achievement came from nothing less than a team effort.
“It doesn’t just happen here, on this floor or in this building. It’s a campus wide achievement,” Myler said.
A site visit took place April 8-10 and included multiple interviews with students, faculty, administrators and clinical site representatives. The preliminary report was received immediately after the visit, to recommend the maximum eight-year state certification. A final decision was made on June 13 by OSBN when it unanimously accepted the recommendation.
“I feel very excited and I feel very relieved,” Myler said. “Receiving eight years is a testament to all the hard work that has been done within this team and then further out into campus with administration and even behind the scenes.”
The UCC nursing program chose to forego national accredidation early in 2018.
UCC Dean of Career Technical Education Jason Aase acknowledged the science department for helping students achieve prerequisites to into the nursing program.
The program received a three-year accreditation during its previous renewal in 2016.
In a summary of the site survey, Myler was commended for her effective leadership, the program was praised was its cohesiveness, and Aase received compliments on his administrative leadership and approval of work hours during the summer.
Myler said Oregon has a fairly rigorous policy on nursing.
“The wonderful thing about the Oregon State Board of Nursing is they will tell you where you’re doing well and they’ll tell you where you need to make improvements and they’re not shy about that, but they are kind. They really want to see nursing programs succeed,” Myler said. “Instead of just saying you need to do this, you can also call them and communicate with them and they will help you to find resources and what it is you might need to reach your goals.”
There were five recommendations made: Posting a Health Sciences organizational chart online, adding a full-time clinical coordinator, hiring nursing faculty at a higher step for recruitment and retention, equalizing the support staff pay scale to promote retention, and writing into policy the expectation of peer review evaluations.
“Recommendations, if not mended, can turn into deficiencies,” Myler said. “We need to show a good faith effort of meeting these before they come and visit us next time.”
Some of the recommendations have already been remedied, including an online organizational chart and a peer-to-peer evaluation in the policy.
Aase said adding the organizational chart online “was an easy fix, which may have been accomplished before she left campus.”
Increase in wages and adding faculty will require more meetings, but will be brought to the attention of administrators.
Myler said a team worked to put together an evidence room, where records were kept.
“This evidence had binders created for all of the Oregon administrative rules, to make it very easy on our site visitor,” Myler said. “She was able find exactly what she needed based on what section of those rules when she was evaluating.”
Student input in the program has also increased with a representative and vice-representative for both first and second-year students. Those representatives meet every two weeks with faculty and staff to bridge a gap and address student needs.
In 2017 and 2018, the program had a pass rate of 90% or more, compared to a national average around 85%.
CHI Mercy Medical Center made job offers to 30 of the 33 students immediately following 2019 graduation, according to Myler.
“They go above and beyond for the final practicum, which is the last term of nursing school, where our students have to be matched up one-to-one with an RN,” Myler said. “That also acts as a very long interview process for our students, many of which go to work on the same floor as the nurse that they worked with.”
Aase added that Mercy was also accommodating to nursing assistants when their previous placements fell through. “It was a very positive experience,” Aase said. “It speaks to the caliber of the courses run by one of our full-time instructors and also our students, and Mercy. They welcomed them with open arms.”
UCC also offers students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree online through Oregon Health Science University.
Myler took advantage of this program after she graduated from UCC in 2008. She graduated from OHSU in 2009, started working at UCC the following year, received her master’s in 2015 and became the director in 2016.
“I wanted from Day 1 to be teacher,” Myler said. “Then I learned you could be a nurse and a teacher at the same time.”
The next site visit will be in April 2027, but that doesn’t mean the work stops for Myler and Aase.
“We take a lot of pride in how much student input is used in continuing student success and growth,” Myler said. “I think that’s been one of the major factors for our success, listening to who is going through the program ... It’s been such a wonderful way to bridge the gap.”
They’re currently working with students to improve the new student orientation and make it more welcoming.