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A total of 61 baccalaureate-educated nurses ready to enter the workforce made up the May 2008 graduating class of Registered Nurses at East Central University.

The class included 49 generic students, those who completed an eight-semester program, including five semesters of clinical courses, to receive a bachelor's degree with a major in nursing, and 12 RN to BSN graduates.

RN to BSN students already are licensed registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma in nursing who want to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. They can complete the required courses at night in 12 months.

"As the shortage of RNs continues to grow," noted Dr. Joseph T. Catalano, RN, chair of the Department of Nursing, "the nursing faculty and I will continue to work hard to meet the projected shortages in our region of the state."

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing estimates there will be a shortage of 800,000 RNs by 2020. In Oklahoma, the shortage is projected to be 3,100 RNs by 2012.

According to data collected by the Oklahoma State Board of Nursing, ECU has the second largest baccalaureate degree nursing program in the state by the number of enrolled majors.

From the first graduating class of 20 nurses in 1974, ECU's program has continued to grow. In 2002, the program was expanded to the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus in Durant and this year the first class of students was admitted to the ECU@Ardmore program.

"We are the only baccalaureate nursing program in the whole southeastern quadrant of the state," Catalano said. "Our service area covers over 14,000 square miles, not including the students we draw from north Texas which also doesn't have a baccalaureate program."

A pinning ceremony was held for the nursing graduates at the First Baptist Church in Ada after the cap and gown graduation at ECU on May 10. Catalano said the second ceremony is held because the nursing program is unique among other degrees offered by ECU. It not only is an academic degree, he said, but also an entrance into a profession.

"The pin the nursing graduates receive is akin to the badges that police officers or firemen receive when they graduate from basic training," he said. "It indicates that they belong to a specially educated professional group and is a symbol of their legal status granted by state licensure."

"The graduates of the ECU nursing program are noted for their knowledge and the high quality care they provide to patients in a multitude of clinical settings," he added. "Our graduates are heavily recruited by hospitals and health organizations all over the state and throughout the southern plains region."

For more information about the ECU nursing program, call 888-691-0001, e-mail or go to the ECU webpage -


Generic graduates from the Ada campus are listed by hometowns:

ADA - Amanda James, Leisa Kinstner, Sandeep Pokharel, Jill Raley, Hillary Spears and Jamie Spottedbird.

ALLEN - Nicole Smith.

ARDMORE - Katrina Capshaw.

DAVIS - Jama Robertson.

HARTSHORNE - Maranda Byrd.

HENRYETTA - Julie Singleton.

HOLDENVILLE - Wendy Davenport.

KONAWA - Rebecca Andrews.

LINDSAY - Joanie Wells.

MACOMB - Katie Boone.

MAYSVILLE - Chelsi McCurtain and Mallory Reynolds.

McALESTER - Melissa Gupton.

MILBURN - Tara Fall.

OOLOGAH - Casey Greer.

PAULS VALLEY - Jeannie Heil

PURCELL - Jared Brown.

SHAWNEE - Kandice Lowry.

STRATFORD - Jayne Morse.

SULPHUR - Tamara Jennings.

VANOSS - Sara Davis.

WAYNE - Kate Buchanan.

WEWOKA - Susan Tilley.

WILSON - Linda Nance.

WYNNEWOOD - Brandy Nabors.

CHICAGO, ILL. - Erica Dial.

DALLAS, TEXAS - Blen Bekele.


Graduates from the Durant program are listed by hometowns:

ARDMORE - Leah Keller.

ATOKA - Tammy Banker.

BOSWELL - Misty Eastwood.

DURANT - Kristi Coleman, Elizabeth Cook, Chandra Workman, Jessica Franks, Jana Haggard, Lori Norman, LeAnn Polson, Katie Schmitz and Misty Ward.

IDABEL - Macy Mitchell.

KINGSTON - Tamy Beasley.

LANE - Elizabeth Birdsong.

MADILL - Monica Winford.

TISHOMINGO - Crystal Ross.

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