Ouachita Baptist University and Baptist Health announced Tuesday their partnership to address the shortage of nurses in the state and region.
OBU recently received approval from its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, to offer a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. The inaugural class convenes in the 2018 fall semester with 23 students.
Its partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock, the teaching component of the Baptist Health System and one of the largest nursing programs in Arkansas, allows for dual enrollment so that nursing students can work as registered nurses a full semester earlier than most traditional BSN programs.
“This is an innovative partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock that expands nursing education and makes it more affordable,” said OBU President Ben Sells said in a news release. “This program allows students to earn two degrees in four years and expedites their entry into the healthcare workforce.”
Students will attend OBU during the first four semesters of the program, then they can continue earning that degree through Ouachita Online while dually enrolled at Baptist Health College Little Rock and earning an associate of applied science in nursing degree from there.
Midway through their senior year, students will sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Once they pass the exam, they will be licensed to work as RNs during the final semester of their senior year while completing OBU’s BSN requirements for graduation.
“As we grow, so too does our need for nurses, preferably those with BSN degrees,” Troy Wells, CEO and president of Baptist Health, said in the release. “Healthcare demand is growing at a rapid pace, and we must be diligent and innovative in our efforts to respond to the demand for services.”
While research and conversations into a potential partnership had been underway for several years, OBU and Baptist Health began the formal planning process for their partnership three years ago.