ADA – East Central University has taken steps over the last several years to contribute to Oklahoma’s nursing workforce by doubling entry points into the ECU School of Nursing program and providing paths for LPNs to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Thanks to Oklahoma’s American Rescue Plan Act, ECU will be receiving $7 million in funding which will go towards the construction of a new building that will allow ECU to expand the School of Nursing even further. The new building will house ECU’s Nursing and STEM programs.
Oklahoma’s state government received nearly $2 billion from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). To divvy up the remaining funds, Oklahoma legislature’s Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding had to select from project applications totaling $18 billion in requested funds. The committee’s listed priorities for the money included broadband, water and sewer infrastructure, and workforce development.
ECU received the funding as part of SB1188, which appropriated funds from the Statewide Recovery Fund of the State Treasury to the Health Care Workforce Training Commission during the 2023 legislative session.
“We want to thank Senator Greg McCortney, Representative Ronny Johns, Senator Chuck Hall, Senator Adam Pugh, Senator John Haste, Speaker of the House Charles McCall, Representative Kyle Hilbert, and Representative Kevin Wallace for all of their work to help ECU get this bill passed,” ECU President Wendell Godwin said. “We received $300,000 in the fall for the same project. We are well on our way to making this new building a reality.”
Currently, the School of Nursing and Computer Science program is housed in Science Hall – ECU’s oldest building, built in 1910. A new building will allow ECU to modernize instructional facilities and expand capacity for Nursing and other STEM programs to address workforce needs in Oklahoma.
“Students who graduate from ECU and other regional universities tend to stay in Oklahoma,” Godwin said. “At ECU, 92% of our graduates stay in Oklahoma after graduation.”
“We currently have about 290 ECU students that have declared nursing as a major,” said Darcy Duncan, director of ECU’s School of Nursing. “With the new building, we anticipate room to accommodate over 500 nursing majors.”
Oklahoma has had a decades-long nursing shortage. The state ranks 46th in the nation for nurses per capita, and the pandemic in 2020 only made it worse.
“These new funds, in addition to other funding already secured, will aid us tremendously in helping Oklahoma’s workforce,” Godwin said. “This also helps improve the experience ECU students gain prior to entering the workforce.”
At ECU, 88% of nursing students pass the NCLEX (certification exam), well above the 79% national average pass rate.
For more information on the ECU School of Nursing, application or NCLEX, visit ecok.edu/SON.