On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, Saint Francis Health System entered into a partnership with Connors State College providing funding to the college’s nursing program. Saint Francis’ $500,000 contribution will support expansion of the school’s nursing program and the addition of two new faculty members. The health system has also provided scholarships to offset students’ educational expenses while enrolled in the Connors State College program. The goal of the relationship is to increase the number of registered nurses in Oklahoma, particularly in the Muskogee area, in order to positively impact the state’s acute nursing shortage and low national ranking for numbers of registered nurses for population size.
Dr. Ronald Ramming, president of Connors State College said, “We are very grateful that this grant will allow us to grow our program and provide highly trained nurses in eastern Oklahoma. This is especially crucial with recent state initiated budget cuts to higher education.”
Saint Francis Health System has a long history of providing support to local and regional educational institutions. “Education is the bedrock of our social and economic development and is, in my view, the most important endeavor that we as a community, as businesses and as individuals can be engaged in,” said Jake Henry Jr., president and chief executive officer of Saint Francis Health System. “We are pleased to partner with Connors State College to support the growth and expansion of their nursing program. This gift, like our other contributions to regional nursing programs, will certainly not solve our state’s nursing shortage, but we see it as another step toward increasing the number of nursing graduates in our region.”
The students receiving the Saint Francis scholarships will have a work requirement with Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee post-graduation. Henry added, “Connors State College Nursing program plays a valuable role in training nurses to work in the Muskogee area. The work commitment to Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee is designed to keep nurses trained locally in the community.”
“This contribution will be a tremendous help to the Nursing Program, which will allow the college to hire two additional nurse faculty and be able to accept more students into the program,” said Joyce Johnson, Nursing Division Chair. “Accepting more nursing students will mean that we can graduate more nurses to help fill the nursing shortage.”