Muskogee Regional Medical Center and Bacone College form partnership

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MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Historic Bacone College and Muskogee Regional Medical Center (MRMC) have formed a partnership resulting in 20 full-time nursing scholarships each year in addition to creating and staffing the position of chair of the department of the Billie R. Tower Nursing Program at Bacone College. The person selected for the new position will also serve as the associate chief nursing officer at the medical center.

Bacone College President Rev. Dr. Robert Duncan, Jr., said, “MRMC has provided funding to the college to hire the director of nursing who will then receive release time from the college for the time spent as associate chief nursing officer.

“MRMC’s CEO Steve Mahan and I both share the same view – that nursing has both an academic and a practical application and that bringing both those natures together will strengthen and improve the quality of nursing candidates. It will help keep the director of the nursing program fully abreast of the issues facing nursing as it changes due to technology and staffing patterns. It brings to those persons at the hospital direct access to what’s new in terms of academics and theory as it relates to nursing,” said Duncan.

Bacone College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the American Baptist Church and offers one of the most diverse student populations in the United States. The 187-acre campus is the oldest college of continuous education in the State of Oklahoma.

Mahan, said, “Primarily the new chair position is academic, but what they will be doing at the hospital is fulfilling a very important role for us in bridging new graduates into the working world once they graduate. I think it is an excellent example of how resources in a community can come together to make for a positive experience for all parties involved.”

When a student accepts the full-time nursing scholarship they are also agreeing to a payback of six months employment at MRMC for every semester of school. “This is a real cutting edge program. It is the fist one like it in Oklahoma. The fact that there is a service commitment of six months for every semester that a student receives the scholarship we hope will keep nurses in Muskogee. We hope it will also help local persons have an opportunity to go to college. It benefits the community in very specific ways – the persons providing the health care services would likely be from the local area and understand the specific needs of people from our community. It also keeps highly qualified professionals in Muskogee,” said Duncan.

“There is a significant Native American population in Muskogee and Bacone College has a long history of educational mission with Native peoples. We are revitalizing that by redesigning our Native American studies degree into a full Native American studies program. We have a long history of educating Native American nurses through our nursing program,” he said.

Duncan said he hopes to see everything put into position by spring 2009.

MRMC is a 329-bed full-service hospital providing a comprehensive range of medical services and care.

“There is a shortage of nurses nationwide but particularly in Oklahoma and certainly here in Muskogee. Our board chair here at the college, Mrs. Ann Ong, helped broker the original conversation with the hospital,” said Duncan. “I think more cooperative ventures will happen between Bacone and the hospital. We checked with the state nursing board to make sure the new position and its shared responsibilities would fit within their accreditation criteria and received a letter back commending us for looking at this innovative solution.”