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To the Fulton Sun

Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, William Woods University will work with the Fulton State Hospital officials to provide a new degree program, according to Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods University.

This new program will create a pipeline of registered nurse graduates to fill a regional shortage of RNs.

“Employment needs in the health care sector, which comprises about one-sixth of the U.S. economy, are significant, and existing higher education nursing programs are unable to keep up with the demand,” Barnett said. “We are proud to partner with Fulton State Hospital to help meet this critical need.”

Almost 16 percent of nursing positions in Missouri hospitals are currently vacant, according to a study by the Missouri Hospital Association. The vacancy rate in Mid-Missouri doubled in 2016 to 16.2 percent. Fulton State Hospital currently has a nurse vacancy rate of more than 30 percent, making a partnership with WWU vital.

“We are so excited for the opportunity to partner with William Woods to support a nursing program in Fulton,” said Andy Atkinson, chief operating officer of Fulton State Hospital. “I am hopeful this collaboration will not only further increase educational opportunities and resources to our employees, it will expand the nursing applicant pool for our hospital and community. I am confident an alliance with such a reputable and revered university will positively impact the nursing shortages seen throughout Missouri.”

“This new nursing program will provide students with a real, hands-on training experience alongside some of the best mental health professionals in the state,” said Mark Stringer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. “The new hospital facility under construction will have modern treatment areas and be an exciting place for students to learn and provide care. William Woods University’s nursing graduates will add talent and stability to the DMH workforce.”

According to a memorandum of understanding between WWU and Fulton State Hospital, the hospital will make its educational facility available for William Woods students in the program, including use of classroom space; additional space for a simulation lab; office space for nursing faculty and staff; and access to the hospital’s library.

William Woods recently began searching for a director of the proposed School of Nursing, the first step in certifying the new degree programs. The appointment will begin the process of assessing which specific degree programs the university will offer. Additional steps will be to gain approval for the programs from the Missouri State Board of Nursing and designing a course curriculum for each.

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