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Event recognizes national award-winning partnership between OU-C and Berger Health Systems

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (Jan. 29, 2007) -- Several members of the Ohio University-Chillicothe community recently attended an event at Berger Health System in Circleville in recognition of the national Recognition of Excellence recognition the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a joint nursing education project created by OU-C and Berger Health System.

The Ohio University-Chillicothe/Berger Collaborative Nursing Program was awarded the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration's Recognition of Excellence honor in the highly competitive "Educating America's 21st Century Workplace" category, one of the five accolades for successful programs and practices.

The Ohio University-Chillicothe/Berger Collaborative Nursing Program developed in October 2002 and became fully operational by March 2003.  The program emerged when the Ohio University-Chillicothe nursing faculty was looking for a solution to decrease the number of nursing school applicants on its waiting list as well as contribute relief to the national nursing shortage. They approached Berger Health System with the idea of expanding the nursing classes to the hospital and community setting.

With the assistance of the $200,000 ETA High Growth Job Training grant, Ohio University-Chillicothe/Berger Health System partnership modified the two-year associate degree program into a three-year program offering flexibility for non-traditional students, including hospital staff, expectant mothers and income-restricted participants. 

The Ohio University-Chillicothe/Berger Collaborative Nursing Program earned the national award based on a variety of factors including its efficiency in creating the program, doubling the capacity of nursing students, the program's 86 percent student retention rate, and Berger Health System's hiring 17 of the program's first graduates. 

The program is premised on a long-term joint research project designed to assess its student success rates on nursing board exams compared to graduates of traditional university based programs, and assess career satisfaction rates among its graduate nurses working at hospital bedsides.

Berger Health System made a major gift to Ohio University-Chillicothe's Bicentennial Campaign to create an endowed nursing professorship to teach courses at the hospital. In addition, Berger paid tuition for their employees in the program and offered scholarships to multiple participants.

A third contributor to the project was Circleville High School, which provided space for laboratory work as well as a location for the March graduation.

"We are very pleased to have been a partner with Berger Health System and Circleville High School for the past several years," OU-C Dean Richard Bebee said. "Through this partnership many additional area students have been able to achieve their dream of becoming a nurse."

Besides Bebee, other OU-C members were Coordinating Council Chairman Jerry Whited, Associate Dean Mike Lafreniere, Dean's Assistant Kim McKimmy-Kelly, interim Director of Information and Technical Services Patty Griffith, Associate Director of Nursing Charlotte McManus and nursing faculty members Ronald Vance, Carolyn Kaple, Lisa Kauffman and Charlotte Souers.

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