Washington State Community College approved to launch Nursing BSN program

Washington State Community College is adding more to its nursing program.
Washington State Community College is adding more to its nursing program.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 8:57 PM EST
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Washington State Community College gained approval to launch the bachelor science in nursing program.

The BSN program is something officials with Washington State say they fought for years to secure. With the passing of Senate Bill 135 and the recent approval from the higher learning commission, the community college say it’s ready to go.

Washington State’s president, Dr. Vicky Wood says this is a win for the college, local healthcare systems and the community.

“It’s important because it’s our mission,” says Dr. Wood. “It is what we do. We are here to provide the higher education and workforce training needs of this community.”

The decision to expand the degree-granting authority of community colleges came in response to the overwhelming demand, on the local, state, and national levels, for more registered nurses, especially those with a BSN. In fact, the profession ranks on Ohio’s top 10 critical jobs list. The purpose of expanding the degree awarding privilege is a step toward offsetting this significant shortage and specifically fortifying the healthcare systems here in the southeast region of Ohio.

“We advocated for this change in state policy and today our efforts have been rewarded. We are excited to expand the capacity of Washington State Community College to be a part of the solution to address the nursing shortage,” said WSCC President Dr. Vicky Wood.

For decades, Washington State has served as a primary resource of nurses for both Memorial Health System and WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center, however, until now, the institution was only able to fill their associate degree nursing (ADN) needs. Leaders of both organizations were actively involved in the institution’s efforts to receive this approval and their support was a critical component.

Many of the local healthcare partners, like Memorial Health System president and CEO, Scott Cantley says that this is an important step to addrress healthcare workforce shortages.

“I think the last three years of this global pandemic has taught us a lot of things. But one, how fragile our workforce is. And in rural parts of the nation. And Marietta being no different,” says Cantley.

Officials with the college found that few of the Washington State ADN graduates will continue for a Bachelor’s. And if they do, they have a hard time continuing their education in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“In our research, we learned that over the past decade, only about 17 percent of our ADN alum were going on to earn advanced degrees. When we asked why, the overwhelming answer was that they wanted an option that was local, flexible, and affordable. Up until now, such an option simply did not exist here in southeast Ohio,” says Dr. Wood.

Health and Washington State officials say that this new program will fix that.

“For us to sustain ourselves, for us to really grow and still relevant and vibrant as community health systems, we have to really focus on the partnerships that create opportunities for local folks,” says Cantley.

The college has made improvements to its nursing classrooms as part of the expansion.

“Our board of education has been very supportive of this expansion and change in mission,” says Dr. Wood. “And we’ve invested over $4 million in our facilities to upgrade our facilities. This being one of the classrooms that we had to make a larger classroom to accommodate our larger groups of students in our nursing program.”

Washington State officials expect many students to join this program since it’s a BSN program offered locally, has flexible schedules and is affordable.

“We are very happy to be able to offer our community members and our nurses a nice way and a local way to receive a quality nursing education right here at home,” says Washington State Community College health and sciences dean, Dr. Heather Kincaid. “So, our goal is, hopefully, that we’ll train them here, and they’ll stay here.”

Dr. Wood wants to thank Governor Mike Dewine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio state senator, Jerry Cirino and Ohio Dept. of Higher Education chancellor, Randy Gardner.