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OHCWC Press Release

Contact: Susie Wallace
Oklahoma Hospital Association
Director of Communications
swallace@okoha.com
(405) 427-9537

For immediate release – Nov. 6, 2008

Study shows Oklahoma hospitals have contributed more than $30 million to
health care education

State funds critically needed in order to avert health care workforce shortage crisis, say groups

Oklahoma City – Oklahoma hospitals invest significant dollars to support health care education in order to build the health care workforce, according to a recent study conducted by the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center and the Oklahoma Hospital Association. As the state braces for a severe shortage of health care workers, hospitals in Oklahoma invested $30,119,801 in scholarships, paid internships/externships, employee tuition waivers, clinical supervision of students, faculty positions, and more in order to support nursing and allied health students from 2005-2007.

But hospital administrators across the state say they cannot avert the impending crisis alone. Unless bold steps are taken, Oklahoma will have a shortage of more than 3,000 nurses, 600 lab technicians, 400 physical therapists, 300 surgical technologists and nearly 200 occupational therapists by the year 2012, according to the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development, Oklahoma’s Health Care Industry Workforce: 2006 Report.

“Ensuring the state has an adequate number of highly skilled health care professionals available to care for the citizens of Oklahoma must be a fiscal and legislative priority for our state,” said Ron Webb, board chairman, Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center. According to Webb, hospitals are already doing more than their fair share.”

Of the $30 million provided in contributions from hospitals over a three-year period:

Nearly one-third of these dollars – $9.5 million – funded nursing and allied health scholarships;

  • $6.5 million was provided to students for paid internships and externships;
  • $5.8 million for nursing and allied health tuition waivers and tuition reimbursements;
  • $6.3 million in resources and contributions for direct student training and education:

    • Nearly $3 million was contributed for the supervision of students during their clinical experiences with patients;
    • $1.7 million was provided by hospitals through the donation of their professional staff members to serve as part-time nursing or allied health care faculty; and
    • $1.6 million in direct contributions funded 33 full-time faculty positions at Oklahoma educational institutions.
  • An additional $2 million was given to nursing and allied health programs at community colleges and technology centers, including support for educational skills labs, and student recruitment and community outreach events.

Data collected by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in 2005 indicated only 57 percent of qualified applicants were admitted into Oklahoma public postsecondary education programs in nursing and allied health. The primary reason qualified applicants are being denied opportunities to pursue nursing and health care education is the critical shortage of faculty available to teach.

"While Oklahoma hospitals are investing significant resources in meeting the workforce crisis, they cannot increase the higher education capacity for educating qualified applicants. Only action by the governor, the Legislature and the State Regents will make this happen,” according to State Senator Susan Paddack (D-Ada), who authored a bill during the 2008 legislative session to increase funding for educational capacity. SB 1769 cleared the Oklahoma House and Senate with no opposition and was signed by the governor; however, no funding was provided for the programs included in the bill for fiscal year 2009. The FY 2009 funding request was $7.8 million. The total dollar amount is $18 million over three years.

The bill proposed funding to expand educational capacity focused on the following needs: 1) Scholarships for faculty development; 2) Matching grants to educational institutions to create and expand use of innovative education and training methods, such as online and distance learning, simulation, and the expansion of clinical opportunities; and 3) Scholarships for individuals to pursue degrees in high demand nursing and allied health occupations.

The report includes specific examples of the types of support provided by several Oklahoma hospitals and health systems across the state. Stillwater Medical Center (SMC), for example, partners with Northern Oklahoma College School of Nursing to fund one full-time faculty position and pays the rent for the nursing school’s local classroom each year. The hospital also awards 10 annual nursing student scholarships. Its contribution to nursing education over the past three years was in excess of $500,000. According to Jerry Moeller, chairman of the board of the Oklahoma Hospital Association and CEO of SMC, “As the state’s second largest employing industry, support for the health care industry contributes to the state’s overall economic vitality. Efforts to attract new businesses to Oklahoma require that the state develop and maintain a strong health care workforce. When businesses consider relocating from out of state, they view the strength and stability of local heath care as an essential infrastructure item, along with transportation and schools.”
According to Webb, “Hospitals cannot afford to take a wait and see approach to building the health care workforce and are already investing significant dollars to assist. However, legislative funding is critically needed in order for Oklahoma to have the supply of professionals needed to care for its citizens now and in the future.”
For a copy of the entire report go to www.ohcwc.com.

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The Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center is a private non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating Oklahoma’s health care worker shortages. It was created through legislation (SB 1394) in 2006 and is privately incorporated. It operates as a public/private partnership. For more information, go to www.ohcwc.com.

Established in 1919, the Oklahoma Hospital Association represents 134 hospitals and health care entities across the state of Oklahoma. OHA’s primary objective is to promote the welfare of the public by leading and assisting its members in the provision of better health care and services for all people. Go to www.okoha.com for more information.

 

 

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