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Healthcare and Education Partners Meet to Build Nursing Pipeline in Southeast Oklahoma

Posted Date: 04/27/2023

Healthcare and Education Partners Meet to Build Nursing Pipeline in Southeast Oklahoma

WILBURTON, Okla. – Representatives from Kiamichi Tech, Eastern Oklahoma State College, Carl Albert State College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Choctaw Nation, Southern Workforce Board and Mercy Hospital met this week with a goal of strengthening and promoting the pipeline of healthcare workers in southeast Oklahoma.  

“We hope to identify regional resources available to students wanting to pursue a career in the healthcare field and continue to build upon the collaborative partnerships that we have with healthcare stakeholders in our area,” said Dr. Darlynn Cast, Director of Instruction at Kiamichi Tech.  

To aid in this pipeline, Kiamichi Tech was recently approved by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing to offer a bridge option for pre-nursing that will give students the opportunity to work as an advanced unlicensed assistant (AUA) before advancing in their healthcare career.  

Upon completion of the pre-nursing program at Kiamichi Tech, students will receive their AUA certification that allows them to work in a hospital setting and perform advanced skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. 

“Working as an AUA in our partner healthcare facilities can actually fast track a student into a nursing career, either in our program or in a higher education institution,” said Shelly Swalley, Practical Nursing Director at Kiamichi Tech. “We are really looking to grow our own to fill the need for highly skilled healthcare professionals in southeast Oklahoma.” 

Partnerships among those represented could formalize the career progression of individuals who want to work as a nurse, whether as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), or beyond. 

“This is a step in the right direction for the communities we all serve,” said Shelley Free, Kiamichi Tech Superintendent. “This is important, and we will see positive outcomes from the work we do. I look forward to continuing this conversation to see how all the pieces can best fit together.” 

Next steps to building this pipeline may include memorandums of agreement among the institutions, worksite learning agreements, scholarships, internships, and recruitment incentives. A quarterly check-in will be scheduled to maintain progress in strengthening the nursing pipeline.