Three Ozark schools rank in top ten for nursing programs in Missouri

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Three schools in the Ozarks are now among the top ten for nursing programs in Missouri.

Registerednursing.org recognized Ozarks Technical Community College, College of the Ozarks and Missouri State University.

Well, each school adjusted to the health crisis in its own way, making students more interested in enrolling.

Sisters Lauren Sanders and Hunter West are enrolled in OTC’s associate of science in nursing program.

“Our cohort just started in January, so we’re done in October,” West said.

“Been a great experience so far,” Sanders said. “It’s a hybrid program so we get to do a lot of it online.”

They only have to do clinical time at the Table Rock or Springfield campus once a week.

“We do live in Joplin, about an hour away,” Sanders said. “So, especially with the weather and stuff, it’s been nice just to be able to log on to a Zoom class.”

“We’ve been hybrid for quite some time now,” Tena Wheeler a Department Chair of the associate of science in nursing program. “We graduated our first hybrid cohort in 2015.”

Registerednursing.org ranks Wheeler’s program third in Missouri.

“That’s the first time we’ve ever been ranked that high,” Wheeler said. “It was great to see that. We encourage our students to be independent learners, self-directed. We encourage them to build on what they’ve already learned.”

College of the Ozarks’ bachelor of science in nursing program is number five on the list.

“I was surprised to receive that,” Janice Williams, the director of the nursing program at C of O said. “We were not seeking that. We want to do what we do with excellence and we happened to be recognized for that. I’m honored.”

After virtual tutoring last summer, the entire C of O graduating class passed its screening test.

“I would love any of them to take care of me any day,” Williams said.

Missouri State’s BSN program sits at number seven.

“We’re honored,” Kathryn Patterson the nursing undergrad program director at MSU said. “I would say number one above all nursing is an honorable profession. I think we do our best at the university.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, MSU switched to a fully virtual learning format.

Now, everything is back on school grounds.

“I applaud the students and the faculty because it was not an easy feat at all,” Patterson said.

Associate level nursing programs normally take two years but with OTC it’ll take under three years to complete.

That degree focuses on practical nursing and clinics.

Graduating with a bachelor’s takes four years, and focuses more on leadership and management skills.

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