Jackson and Josephine counties (Oct. 19, 2023) – On Sept. 26, 2023, the Higher Education Coordination Commission awarded Rogue Community College (RCC) a Workforce Ready: Innovation in Workforce Programs Grant in the amount of $969,722. The funds will support the expansion of RCC’s nursing program and will help meet the demand for registered nurses (RNs), improve nursing education and strengthen the healthcare workforce.
Funds will be distributed over three years to RCC and its project partners—Providence Medford Medical Center and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.
“Asante is excited to strengthen our partnership with Rogue Community College by providing nursing adjunct faculty to help support growth of the school’s health care program and offer excellent training experiences,” said Director of Asante Nursing Professional Development Anne Hansen, DNP, RN.
“The award will have a significant impact on the college, its students and the community, at a time when there is a strong demand for more nurses,” said RCC’s Dean of Instruction, Health and Public Services Dave Koehler.
According to a recent study by the Oregon Longitudinal Data Collaborative (OLDC), there is a significant unmet demand for registered nurses across the state. Existing training programs are unable to produce enough graduates to meet the demand, with only 23% of qualified applicants admitted to RN programs.
The shortage of RNs is also prevalent locally, as evidenced by Providence Medford Medical Center that has 40 open RN positions, while Asante has 347 vacant RN positions across their healthcare system.
“Providence is proud to walk alongside RCC as they grow their nursing program. We know that nursing students who attend school in Southern Oregon often stay for the duration of their career. It’s imperative that education and industry partners meet the needs of our growing community,” said Providence Medford Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Kate Kitchell.
The college’s initiatives aim to mitigate these barriers with three strategies: 1) improving simulation education, 2) obtaining program accreditation, and 3) addressing the pay gap for clinical faculty.
“Reducing barriers to educational opportunities and bolstering our local workforce builds on Asante’s mission to provide quality health care services in a compassionate manner valued by the communities we serve,” said Hansen.
Historically, Workforce Ready Grants advance opportunities to recruit and retain a diverse workforce in key sectors of Oregon’s economy including healthcare, manufacturing and technology. These grants invest in new and innovative education and training programs that focus on partnerships by identifying barriers to participation, program completion and career advancement, and providing job training participants with the support they need to be successful.
“The RCC Registered Nursing program is among the best in the state. Together, RCC,
Asante and Providence Medford are excited to expand the capacity of the RCC RN program through an innovative cost-sharing initiative that enables practicing RNs at these hospitals to act as clinical faculty,” said Koehler.