Oakland University
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Still in Growth Mode after 37 years

OU today is still on the cutting edge of nursing education.

A national study published this spring suggests ambitious goals to transform nursing practice and nursing education by 2020. With 90 students in its doctoral program, Oakland is contributing to the Institute of Medicine’s goal of doubling the number of nurses with doctoral degrees by 2020. The rapid growth of the new doctoral program demonstrates the strong demand for advanced education in nursing.

The School’s master’s level programs enroll another 220 students, with MSN students specializing as gerontology or family nurse practitioners, nurse specialists, nursing educators, and nurse anesthetists. The nurse anesthetist program, done in collaboration with William Beaumont Hospital, is OU’s nationally ranked academic program. It regularly is cited as one of the top twenty programs in the country.

Despite the impressive record at the graduate level, the undergraduate program remains the core of nursing instruction at OU.

“Our biggest problem with the standard Bachelor of Science program in nursing is spaces available for clinical experience,” says Darlene Schott-Baer, interim dean of the School of Nursing. The school has a long waiting list of students who want the core undergraduate degree program.

“There simply aren’t enough clinical rotations available for us to grow,” according to Schott-Baer. “It is a common problem with all nursing schools. The demand for nurses is there and students are eager to pursue the degree, but we limited because of the number of clinical sites able to take students.”

Despite the ceiling on the standard undergraduate bachelor’s program, Oakland is tackling another of the Institute of Medicine targets of having 80% of practicing registered nurses holding a bachelor’s degree by 2010. Many RNs are graduates of community college programs. OU has a RN/BSN completion program as well a second degree program for those with degrees in other disciplines who want to make a career shift into nursing. The number of students in those two programs rivals in size the nearly 500 students who have been admitted to the standard BSN program.

The thirty-three fulltime faculty members in the school also are active in research, often in collaboration with faculty in other units on campus. For example, nursing faculty members are teaming with engineering faculty on devices that can help seniors. In one example, nursing and engineering faculty are working together on a sensing device that can anticipate or prevent the elderly from falling and another than can help excited patients calm themselves.
From its initial class of 287 pre-nursing undergraduate students in 1974, Oakland University’s School of Nursing has grown to almost 2200 undergraduate and graduate students.

Oakland was at the forefront of a dramatic change in nursing education when those pre-nursing students enrolled in the fall of 1974. Hospital-based diploma programs were closing down, and Oakland launched its school in tandem with Providence Hospital closing its diploma program.

Created by Bill Connellan (connella@oakland.edu) on Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Modified by Bill Connellan (connella@oakland.edu) on Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Article Start Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2011