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Chillicothe Campus develops nursing partnership in Circleville

ATHENS, Ohio (April 5, 2004) -- Ohio University Chillicothe Campus and Berger Health System are a team when it comes to serving the needs of nursing students. On March 29, the duo announced that its partnership in a two-year associate nursing degree program was taking an important step forward.

The program's inaugural class of 30 students began its clinical training on March 31 at Berger Hospital in Circleville, Ohio.

Ohio University President Robert Glidden with Joyce Zurmehly (left) and Denise Minor.Berger also announced that it was donating $206,000 to the Chillicothe Campus to provide faculty support for the nursing program and an additional $204,000 earmarked as tuition assistance for students in the program.

Traditional nursing programs educate students in an academic setting before assigning them clinical training sessions in separate locations. In contrast, the Ohio University Chillicothe Campus-Berger Health System Nursing Program allows students the convenience of receiving their academic training and practicum experience at one location, Berger Hospital.

One of the anticipated benefits for Berger is that it will have the first opportunity to hire the program's graduates in a time when there is a national scarcity of qualified registered nurses. It will also provide another way for both Berger and Ohio University's Chillicothe Campus to benefit the local region by providing high quality healthcare, jobs and education.

The new nursing program was the brainchild of Chillicothe Campus nursing instructors Denise Minor and Joyce Zurmehly, who took the idea to the Berger administration while working on their doctoral degrees in health sciences from Walden University. Minor, now the health commissioner for Pickaway County, still teaches classes part-time, while Zurmehly continues to teach full-time while finishing up her degree.

"Denise and I thought it would be a good idea to expose nursing students to the mandatory clinical training process earlier in the education process," Zurmehly said. "Many times, students don't realize what being a nurse is all about until they have almost finished their education. Some of these students find out that they don't like the work and end up lacking the long-term commitment to the profession – this program will help students avoid that unfortunate situation."

As part of the program, Zurmehly also is conducting a long-term research project that will compare the graduates' scores on nursing board exams with the scores of traditional nursing students. The research project also will investigate the career satisfaction rates and the level of commitment of its alumni to the field of nursing.

"Higher public education must explore new ways to deliver quality education in a changing economic environment," Chillicothe Campus Dean Richard Beebe said. "Creative partnerships with local and regional organizations and businesses are critical to our future because of declining economic support for higher education. That is one of the primary reasons that our relationships with Berger are an important tactic."

Berger Health System includes Berger Hospital, a full service 94-bed community hospital and a number of other ambulatory healthcare facilities throughout Pickaway County.

The Chillicothe Campus Bicentennial Campaign has raised more than $6.6 million dollars in support of academic programs and facilities. Ohio University's Bicentennial Campaign has raised more than $195 million toward its goal of $200 million in time for the university's bicentennial in 2004. The campaign will provide resources for scholarships, endowed faculty positions, technological enhancements, innovative programs and selected capital improvements.

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Media Contacts: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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