Oklahoma City University’s $8.5 million nursing school expansion is more than an addition of bricks and mortar. It will help alleviate the long-standing nursing shortage.
The expansion was imperative partly to accommodate OCU’s exploding ranks of nursing students. But it is also needed to provide for the school’s growing ranks of nursing students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing. In keeping with OCU’s long-standing commitment to service, it was a calculated move to make a positive community contribution.
The Kramer School of Nursing expansion will connect with the current nursing building, adding 50,000 square feet to the current 16,000-square-foot facility. It will contain 10 new classrooms, six seminar rooms and three labs with mock hospital rooms. It will quadruple the size of the nursing school, said Associate Dean Dr. Lois Salmeron, EdD, RN, CNE.
“A big part of the reason for this is the tremendous growth we’ve had,” she said. “We’ve set (growth) records every year for the last seven years.”
Kramer School of nursing was established nearly 30 years ago. When Dr. Marvel Williamson assumed the role of Dean in 2001, there were 16 graduates in that class. The May 2010 class graduated 125 nurses from the undergraduate and master’s programs.
The Kramer school has been operating in a building designed to accommodate 100 students. After the expansion, the school will be able to accommodate the 325 students currently enrolled in all programs and many more. The addition is triple the size of the current building.
About 40,000 qualified applicants to nursing schools nationally were denied admission this as year due to inadequate qualified faculty to teach them.
It takes nurses with master’s degrees to teach undergraduate nurses. Nurses must have doctorates to teach at all levels and run school nursing programs. OCU’s first class of doctoral students begins studies in August 2010.
Educators have a calling to do what they do and would certainly like to be recognized financially for their educations and commitment to teaching nursing students, said Dr. Salmeron.
“All of us are in it because we’re dedicated to it and we love it,” she said. “We could go elsewhere and make twice as much money but we just don’t want to do that.”
As she describes the school, the expansion and teaching, it is clear Dr. Salmeron finds compensation in a more enduring way. She speaks of her excitement about the school’s future. She knows Kramer’s growth and nurse educator programs will make a material difference on healthcare by putting more skilled nurses in the field.
OCU offers essentially every nursing degree track. In addition, it offers options to pursue those degrees quickly and or flexibly - fast-track, part-time, full-time, part-time nights, among many others.
Dr. Salmeron also noted that virtually all students receive financial assistance – some very significant - to attend the faith-based, private university. The university makes every effort to help every qualified student attend, regardless of financial circumstances.
Kramer’s information is posted on the school’s web site, www.okcu.edu/nursing.
OCU’s nursing school has been honored repeatedly. For the third year in a row, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has ranked Kramer among the top 10 percent of nursing schools in the nation.
The expansion is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2011.