Umpqua Community College nursing student Casiana Lopez, right, works with nursing clinical instructor Carolyn Crampton during a class.

WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College will start its nursing program with 64 students next school year.

“I’m excited that we will be going back to our original numbers,” Director of Nursing April Myler said. “We have an excellent and strong nursing team that is also supportive of the growth. At this point, we will be continuing the work with the Oregon State Board of Nursing to make sure everything is in place so that we have a successful transition.”

The college had 48 students in this year’s cohort, but already had an approved capacity of 64.

CHI Mercy Medical Center, which hires 25-30 UCC nursing grades annually, indicated that it could accommodate an increased number of students for clinical cohorts within the medical facility.

The college president’s report noted that when the nursing program demonstrates growth, the college will seek national accreditation — if community partners will fund the additional position required to do so.

“It really does not add a lot of value to the program, except that you have to have national accreditation in other to work for the federal administration,” UCC President Debra Thatcher said.

Students with a two-year nursing degree need to be nationally accredited to work for the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Health Care Systems. 

UCC decided to forego its national accreditation in 2018 due to budgetary and time constraints. The nursing program at the college is approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing.

UCC will hire an additional faculty member for the program in the summer of 2020 to help with the increased number of students.

“It’s great for our community if the program can grow,” board member David Littlejohn said.

Thatcher and Dean of Career and Technical Education Jason Aase both noted that in the nursing program’s accreditation last year the Oregon State Board of Nursing recommended increasing the salary for nursing program faculty to retain and attract qualified personnel.

Thatcher spoke about several of the accomplishments of the nursing program during Wednesday’s board meeting, including its 96.67% pass rate for first-time testers on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing.

Thatcher also highlighted that just a few weeks ago the nursing assistant program received a two-year reapproval through the Oregon State Board of Nursing.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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