By Felley Lawson
OBU News Bureau
ARKADELPHIA — Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Nursing has been initially approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing (ASBN) to begin recruiting and admitting students to its 4-year, residential Bachelor of Science in Nursing pre-licensure program option. The first cohort will start the program at the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester.
Prior to earning initial approval on Jan. 6, 2022, Ouachita’s program was granted pre-requisite approval by the ASBN on Sept. 9, 2021.
“Ouachita’s experienced faculty is well prepared to offer a high-quality, student-centered nursing education to help meet the demand for nurses,” said Dr. Brenda Trigg, director of nursing in Ouachita’s Patterson School of Natural Sciences. “This program option will give Ouachita students the opportunity to remain on Ouachita’s campus and participate in the full Ouachita experience.”
Ouachita’s four nursing faculty members bring a combined 118 years of nursing education and clinical experience to the program. Students also will benefit from a broad range of options for their required clinical experience; Ouachita has relationships with 15 regional healthcare providers in the state.
Applications for the program are open to new or currently enrolled Ouachita students; freshmen and sophomore nursing majors may participate without delaying their graduations. Ouachita currently enrolls approximately 100 nursing majors.
“We’ve reached another milestone with our nursing program, and the timing could not be better,” said Dr. Tim Knight, dean of the Patterson School. “The pandemic has only increased the demand for nurses that was at an all-time high before it began. We’re poised to help, and we look forward to admitting students for the traditional, prelicensure program here at Ouachita.”
The pre-licensure program will give students a third option when choosing a degree track to obtain a BSN at Ouachita. In Fall 2018, Ouachita launched its nursing program with a distinctive RN-to-BSN dual enrollment completion program in partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock. The Department of Nursing has since added a fully-online RN-to-BSN degree program for students who already have a valid registered nurse license.
Work also is underway on a $2.2 million, 6,600-square-foot Nursing Education Center at Ouachita. This simulation and teaching center will be home to a clinical skills lab, five simulated hospital patient rooms, a pharmacy and several high-fidelity mannequins that will allow students to perfect their assessment, clinical and communication skills. The facility will supplement the adjacent 70,000 square foot Jones Science Center that also serves nursing students.
At the new facility, “students will participate in real-life scenarios, utilizing high-level simulators, which promotes critical thinking and leads to improved decision making when faced with similar situations during the clinical setting,” Trigg noted.
Following the typical ASBN approval process, Ouachita will seek full approval of the program after the first cohort graduates.