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The East Central University School of Nursing has recently increased the amount of applicants that can be accepted by opening up a second entry point to the nursing program.  Doing so helps ECU meet the demand for nursing jobs throughout the state of Oklahoma and beyond.

As of 2020, the Oklahoma Board of Nursing reported there were around 51,000 registered nurses in Oklahoma. With the average age being 46, the shortage is expected to grow due to retirements. Currently, an estimated 67,300 health care jobs are open in Oklahoma, and the shortages have only been worsened by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the pandemic, retirements, increased strain, and competition between states for traveling nurses has made our shortage even more acute,” Timothy Pehrson, president and CEO of Integris Health, wrote in a recent editorial published by “The Journal Record.” 

“Nursing is an honorable, rewarding career and there is a need for nurses in every community in Oklahoma,” he said.

ECU hopes to help meet that shortage and demand with this second entry point.

School of Nursing Director Darcy Duncan said applications were previously only accepted for a spring entry.  Now, however, potential nursing students can apply in the spring to begin the following fall semester. The application deadline is April 4 for students wanting to begin the program for the fall 2022 semester. Those hoping to begin in spring 2023, may apply beginning May 2.  

Duncan said this will help students with more opportunities to get prerequisites in for the program, as well as not have to wait to start.

“For example, students who might struggle with a class or circumstances in the spring, can jump in with the fall and not have to wait out until the next spring,” she said. “This, along with generous donors providing students with materials and equipment they need for the program, help sets students up for success.” Equipment recent donors have been able to provide includes lab kits, practice mannikins, e-book access, VR goggles and simulation equipment, and even helping with unexpected financial situations that occur.  While funds for this assistance may not always be available, Duncan said it has helped current students.

ECU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to pre-licensure students. Pre-licensure students complete an eight-semester program leading to the degree. Graduates who meet the Oklahoma state requirements for licensure, are eligible to apply to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-CAT, RN) to become a registered nurse.

The RN to BSN program at ECU is offered entirely online. Designed specifically for those who currently hold their RN license, the program prepares working nurses to become lifelong learners while advancing their careers.  Because it is online, the degree offers flexibility to study around the schedule working nurses have. 

To find the information on applying for the fall 2022 semester, including the application and entrance examination registration, or more information on ECU’s School of Nursing, visit, or for the online RN to BSN, visit

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