New Nursing Program Helping Grow Central Oregon Workforce


Central Oregon will have a new option for people wanting to become nurses starting this summer, thanks to close collaboration among Oregon Health & Science University, St. Charles Health System and Central Oregon Community College.

The OHSU School of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Program has opened a new location in Bend , and the program will begin teaching its first group of eight Central Oregon-based students in July. Previously only available to Portland- and Ashland-based students, the 15-month-long program is geared toward people who want to change careers and become a nurse. It helps individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field to quickly earn a second bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“OHSU is honored to bring our well-established accelerated curriculum option to Bend in partnership with St. Charles, Central Oregon Community College and many other local leaders,” said OHSU School of Nursing Dean Susan Bakewell Sachs, Ph.D., RN, FAAN. “The OHSU School of Nursing is proud to both help students from Central Oregon become nurses without having to leave home, and also to help the Bend area grow more of its own nurse leaders.”

“This is a huge win for our community, as we provide local access to this high-quality, in-demand accelerated program,” said St. Charles Chief Nursing Executive Joan Ching, D.N.P., RN, CPHQ. “I am excited that, through collaboration with our partners, we are increasing the pool of highly trained nurses who will live and work in Central Oregon.”

“Central Oregon Community College is pleased to be able to lease our nursing lab and simulation space to OHSU’s accelerated BSN program,” said Julie Downing, Ph.D., an instructional dean at COCC. “We’ve been working collaboratively with St. Charles and OHSU to increase the number of bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses in Central Oregon. And with COCC soon starting an RN-to-BSN program, OHSU’s efforts perfectly complement our own, as each institution is reaching different students with different prior education credentials.”

The program’s arrival in Bend is the result of conversations among OHSU Provost Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., FCCP, FASHP, FAST, FACHE, Oregon State University Provost Edward Feser, Ph.D. , and Ching. Chisholm-Burns and Feser organized a series of meetings with leaders from the OHSU School of Nursing, St. Charles, COCC, OSU-Cascades and other community organizations. The group collectively determined that bringing an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing program to Bend would be an effective way to meet Central Oregon’s pressing nursing workforce needs, and would also complement COCC’s planned new RN-to-BSN program. Chisholm-Burns said she is appreciative of the support received from the community, including St. Charles, COCC and OSU.

While OHSU nursing students occasionally have community-based learning opportunities in the Bend area and the OHSU School of Nursing has five regional campuses throughout the state, the school hasn’t had an official presence in Central Oregon until now.

The Bend location for the OHSU School of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Program will be based out of COCC’s campus. Following classroom instruction and practicing techniques in a simulation lab, OHSU students will have hands-on learning opportunities at St. Charles and other community clinics. Bridgette Bochner, Ph.D., RN, who has worked locally as a nurse for 24 years, has been hired to serve as the OHSU program’s Bend-based leader.

Applications for the OHSU program’s first group of Bend-based students are being accepted through April 15. More information is available on the OHSU School of Nursing website.

In addition to tuition, the program’s Bend location is supported by funding from the OHSU Provost’s Office, which is leading efforts to grow and diversify OHSU’s health profession student body. Scholarship opportunities are available for eligible students based at all OHSU School of Nursing locations, including Bend.

COCC’s registered nurse program has long offered associate degrees in nursing. Now, COCC is also developing a bachelor’s degree in nursing program that could welcome its first students as soon as 2025. Their new program is being designed for students who haven’t previously earned a bachelor’s degree, which will make it distinct from and complementary to OHSU’s accelerated bachelor of science program.

About OHSU:
OHSU is Oregon’s academic health center and is nationally distinguished as a research university dedicated solely to advancing health sciences. This singular purpose allows us to focus on discoveries that prevent and cure disease, on education that prepares physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals for the evolving health care environment, and on patient care that incorporates the latest advances. Based in Portland, we are one of Oregon’s largest employers, operate the top-ranked adult and children’s hospitals in the state, and secure competitive research funding of more than $586 million. As a public organization, we also provide services for the most vulnerable Oregonians and outreach to improve health in communities across the state.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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