(NewsNation) — A nationwide shortage of nurses is increasing the strain on America’s health care system. Consequently, some nursing programs are exploring unconventional methods to bolster the workforce.
However, not everyone supports these approaches.
These programs are streamlining the path to obtaining a nursing degree. For example, starting in January, Oklahoma City University will introduce a new program that cuts the time required to earn a nursing degree in half.
These accelerated programs have no waiting list and can admit as many students as staffing allows. Many other schools also offer accelerated nursing programs that can be completed in as little as 12 to 16 months. A typical program usually takes roughly twice that time to complete.
“The curriculum is exactly the same,” said Gina Crawford, the Dean of OCU Kramer School of Nursing. “The course requirements, the number of credit hours, they have to demonstrate the same competencies.”
Administrators explained that they’re able to do this by expanding classwork and clinicals to as many as five days a week compared to the usual two- to three-day week.
Critics have raised concerns that these incoming nurses could be less prepared than those who have taken the traditional nonaccelerated course.
Crawford argues that all students will be equally prepared and ultimately equally judged.
“They all have to pass the same NCLEX licensure exam to demonstrate that they have learned what they need to learn to safely practice in the health care setting. So there’s no difference in that,” she said.
Incentive programs like these are coming at a time when hospitals are strained, leaving the need for nurses high.
Earlier this year, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing said about 100,000 registered nurses in the U.S. left the workplace due to stress.
The Oklahoma Board of Nursing issued a statement to NewsNation affiliate KFOR after hearing about the decision to add the program.
“The Oklahoma Board of Nursing’s mission is to protect the public through nursing regulation. We support efforts to address the nursing shortage in Oklahoma with qualified and properly trained nurses.”