How The ‘Nursing Partner Program’ Is Addressing Oklahoma’s Shortage In The Profession


Tuesday, August 16th 2022, 6:35 pm

By: News 9


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In the middle of a nursing shortage, Norman Regional Health System is working with local colleges to bridge the gap between students in the classroom and at bedside.

The Nurse Partner Program gives Oklahoma nursing students hands-on experience in the hospital during their last semester as well as compensation for clinical hours needed to graduate.

The program in March 2021, following Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma Board of Nursing recognizing extreme staffing shortages. The shortages are largely due to pandemic burnout.

The program is overseen by Kelia Crabbe, RN, MSN, and is a transition to practice specialist who oversees the program at Norman Regional.

Crabbe said the main goal of the program is to bridge the gap between students and employees.

“Not only were we short staffed, but the complexity of the patients was also so significant,” Crabbe said. “We had students who were not able to be a part of the clinical opportunity, so this gave us a bridge between that gap."

The program creates a partnership between NRHS and nursing schools at seven academic entities in the area. Nursing students get the ability to participate in clinicals while employed at the hospital. 

Students are also required to work as nursing assistants for the extra hours required by their college. 

"We could bring them to the bedside to practice clinically with a seasoned nurse and allow them to gain some experience in hopes that they would be more ready to practice nursing when they graduate,” said Crabbe.

Last year, Brittney Vaughan went through the program when she was attending Oklahoma City Community College. Vaughan said it was a seamless segue into the nursing profession.

"Gave a unique experience to starting out my first nursing job,” Vaughan said. "I was able to actually be an employee of the hospital, and I felt like that gave me the chance to get to know my peers and they got to know me. Kind of helped me decide that this is the place I wanted to work.”

Vaughan said the compensation for the clinical hours was a perk, but she said the real benefit was getting to see what the hospital was like before committing to full-time employment following graduation.

"We know that we're building confidence and competence in the new nurses,” said Crabbe.

Crabbe said that they ultimately want this program to be a recruitment pipeline.

"Incentivizing their program, incentivizing their hospital and, ultimately, getting new hires out of it,” Crabbe said. “We're very happy to find employment here.”

If you’re a student nurse and are interested in applying to the program, click here.

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