Saint Francis Partners With Rogers State University For Nursing Program

Saint Francis is partnering with Rogers State University to educate more nursing students this fall. Juniors in RSU's nursing program can choose to complete classes on the Claremore campus or at the hospital starting in August.

Monday, April 3rd 2023, 9:23 pm


Saint Francis is partnering with Rogers State University to educate more nursing students this fall.

Juniors in RSU's nursing program can choose to complete classes on the Claremore campus or at the hospital starting in August.

Classroom instruction at Saint Francis will be presented via video simulcast with instructors in Claremore and live with facilitators in Tulsa.

The Saint Francis extended campus will accept 16 juniors in fall 2023 and add 16 more each semester and will eventually have 64 nursing students, 32 juniors and 32 seniors, each year.

The new partnership will allow RSU to increase its nursing graduates by more than 50 percent.

Nursing students at RSU said the fall semester and these new opportunities can't come quick enough.

"I wanted to do something where I was helping people. I knew that would be a rewarding career for me and I wanted to do something that I had the option to further my education if I wanted to. Grad school. Something like that," said Raechel Litterell, Nursing Student. "It makes a difference here. You know it's real-life, hands-on training verses the classroom. We of course have simulation labs that we do and those of course are excellent, but it is great getting to come here and do clinical."

"I'm really excited to start working here on 3-Tower. I would like to go through my different certifications and be able to do as much as I can as a nurse," said Justin Dorse, Nursing Student. "We can have a better understanding of what's gonna happen once we graduate. What's gonna happen once we enter into the workforce."

Justin Dorse is following in some of his family members' footsteps.

"My family has a history of being in the healthcare field. My mom was an LPN. My grandpa was a corpsman in the Navy, and I just got to hear their stories growing up. Hear how they were able to help people and so that inspired me to continue my education through medicine, and I thought nursing was the best way to facilitate that," said Dorse.

Saint Francis is renovating a 6,000 square foot area in the hospital that will include a state-of-the-art simulation center and classrooms.

The center will have four high-fidelity simulation suites that replicate inpatient rooms and will include medical/surgical nursing, critical care, labor and delivery, trauma, and pediatrics settings complete with sophisticated manikins that simulate breathing, sweating, talking and giving birth. There will also be space for task and skill training, along with future plans for virtual reality simulations.

"People that go into healthcare, the main reason is that they like to help people. They want to make a difference in somebody's life and in nursing you get to do that and there's lots of different opportunities. You don't have to stay at the bedside," said Cindy Leathers, Saint Francis Chief Nursing Officer.

Saint Francis said it will hire two coordinators for the extended campus and simulation center, as well as two full-time nursing instructors who will have academic appointment at RSU.

"It's really outside the box. You don't hear of schools in our area doing this and so we're pleased to be one of the first doing a partnership like this," said Carla Lynch, RSU Department Head of Health Sciences & Nursing.

It's a four-year degree and two of those years are spent at the satellite campus. In those two years, students spend 528 hours in clinicals.

"This gives us the opportunity to make more nurses for Northeast Oklahoma and the region. Currently we have to turn away many qualified applicants every single semester that apply for our program and by being able to accept more, have them at this campus it allows to them get more nurses out the door and help care for our friends, family, and community," said Lynch.

Saint Francis Health System needs to hire more than 600 nurses each year to account for retirements and future growth.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed between 2020 and 2023. Employment for nurses will grow at a rate of 9 percent annually, which is faster than all other occupations.

"They really get to learn the culture of Saint Francis and what we do here," said Cindy Leathers, Saint Francis Chief Nursing Officer. "The end goal is that we are able to hire and those nurses that are here for two years during their education become engrained with Saint Francis and become a life nurse for Saint Francis."

Saint Francis hopes having nursing students learn at the hospital will make those students want to stay on as nurses after they graduate. 

Applications for the spring 2024 semester began April 1, 2023. Click here for more information about the nursing program and how to apply.


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