Ochsner Health and Loyola University New Orleans have partnered to launch a new pre-licensure undergraduate nursing program, the organizations announced Wednesday.
Students will study Loyola's core liberal arts curriculum with a pre-nursing focus their first year and transition to a hands-on experience at Ochsner's facilities as well as in Loyola's new nursing simulation lab to be completed by mid-2022. The first class is slated to graduate with a bachelor of science in nursing in 2025, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
"Having a strong and skilled nursing workforce is one of the biggest challenges we face at Ochsner," Warner Thomas, president and CEO of the New Orleans-based integrated health system, said during a press conference Wednesday, adding that it will provide Loyola undergraduate nursing students with clinical faculty and clinical placements. "Every day we see there is a challenge with nursing shortages and being able to staff our facilities—today we have well over 300 agency nurses that travel from all over to come into Ochsner."
An average of 175,900 openings for registered nurses are projected each year over the decade, largely due to the aging workforce and a dearth of teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Louisiana, more than half of the state's nurses are 50 years old or older, a report from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing found.
"The critical shortage of nurses is not a function of students not wanting to become nurses, it has been a shortage of nursing education," Loyola President Tania Tetlow said during the press conference.
Loyola undergraduate nursing students will complete eight clinical rotations at various Ochsner facilities, working with Ochsner healthcare providers in adult and pediatric medical-surgical care, women's health, behavioral health and community health experiences, among other specialties. Students will complete at least 734 hours of hands-on clinical training in tandem with continued classroom learning at Loyola.
"One of the hurdles for nursing students is often the clinical placement. Often, there are not enough placement opportunities to meet demand and students face long wait times that interfere with their careers and aspirations. With this partnership, we have removed that barrier," said Dr. Laurie Anne Ferguson, dean of the College of Nursing and Health.