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Washington State Community College officials testify for BSN opportunity at commuter colleges

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Officials from Washington State Community College go to the Ohio state senate yesterday to provide testimony about nursing programs at commuter colleges.

Currently, the chancellor of higher education is only permitted to authorize applied bachelor’s degrees at community colleges.

However, senate bill 135 would change this to give those in nursing programs at commuter colleges a chance to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).

Officials say that it would not only provide more nurses in Ohio, but would also mean more in rural and small communities.

“When many of our folks leave the region and attend institutions in Athens or Columbus, they’re recruited by where they serve their clinicals there. So, our local healthcare partner industries have to re-recruit those students to come back to the region,” says Washington State Community College’s workforce development and partnership director, Gary Barber. “And it’s very difficult because they’re being recruited in that clinical area as well. Because the shortages spans across the state.”

And it would also be more flexible for the average commuter college student.

“Our graduates are looking for an opportunity that’s flexible and affordable and in-person option. And so, when our students leave us with an associate’s degree in nursing, it’s challenging for them to go on. They’re working oftentimes raising a family, have other obligations. And they don’t want the online options. So, therefore, that holds them back from pursuing higher education,” says Washington State Community College president, Vicky Woods.

The state of Ohio set a goal in 2010 to have 80 percent of nurses with a BSN by 2020. They only saw 57 percent of their nurses make this mark.

According to WSCC officials, of the graduates from the community college, only 17 percent of nursing school graduates opted to pursue a BSN. And of the graduates that are 30-plus years of age, less than five percent pursue a BSN.

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