Arkadelphia-based Ouachita Baptist University and Little Rock-based Baptist Health announced a partnership Tuesday (Aug. 21) to address the shortage of nurses in the state and region.
OBU recently received approval from its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The inaugural class convenes in the 2018 fall semester with 23 students.
The partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock (BHCLR), the teaching component of the Baptist Health System and one of the largest nursing programs in Arkansas, will create a dual enrollment RN-to-BSN completion program. The program will allow nursing students to work as RNs a full semester earlier than most traditional BSN programs.
“This is an innovative partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock that expands nursing education and makes it more affordable,” said Dr. Ben Sells, OBU president. “This program allows students to earn two degrees in four years and expedites their entry into the healthcare workforce.”
“This partnership with Ouachita makes sense for Baptist Health,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “Our respective missions and cultures are very much aligned, and we share a commitment to faith-based education. We strongly complement one another.”
Baptist Health is Arkansas’ largest healthcare system, with hospitals in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Arkadelphia, Conway, Heber Springs, Malvern and Stuttgart. Additionally, it recently purchased Sparks Health System, with locations in Fort Smith and Van Buren.
“As we grow, so too does our need for nurses, preferably those with BSN degrees,” Wells said. “Healthcare demand is growing at a rapid pace, and we must be diligent and innovative in our efforts to respond to the demand for services.”