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Lepaine McHenry - Nursing Impact

Dr. Lepaine McHenry, dean of nursing at OBU, explains why the nursing profession has a significant impact on our economy.
Lepaine McHenry - Nursing Impact

Lepaine McHenry - Nursing Impact

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Oklahoma Baptist University

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Show 1720: Lepaine McHenry - Nursing Impact
Air Date: May 14, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, when you consider that nurses by far make up most of the jobs in the medical profession, it is a career path that has a significant impact on our economy. After visiting the simulation labs, I was able to talk to the dean of OBU’s College of Nursing, Lepaine McHenry. So, Dean McHenry, why are programs like this important to our state’s economy?

Lepaine McHenry: Well, nursing has an economic implication. Right now, about a week ago when I was looking at the data, within 50 miles of Shawnee there were over 1,500 registered nurse positions open. In our state alone, there were about 3,900, a little over 3,900 positions available. Many of our hospitals in the state currently are relying upon agency nurses and traveling nurses, which are very expensive to their budgets. And none of those hospitals are going to be able to sustain that over long periods of time. So we need to be doing a better job in our state of producing more nurses to fill these positions that can go in and work in our hospitals and bring in tax dollars, spending dollars, into our local economies throughout the state of Oklahoma. One of the reasons why we are having this challenge of not being able to produce enough nurses is a lack of educated or prepared faculty in order to teach in nursing programs; a lack of clinical space; a lack of space even within nursing programs in order to do that; a lack of space in facilities within schools to be able to accommodate those students. And so nursing simulation does fill somewhat of a role because it does allow us to incorporate that experience in the clinical experience, which relieves some of the burden of having to find clinical sites. But there is a clear economic value of us producing more nurses in the state of Oklahoma. I mean, you think about that. If we’ve got about 3,900 vacancies in the state, think about if we had that many nurses contributing to the economy here in Oklahoma, the tax dollars that would be brought into the state, statewide locally, in order to build our economy. So I would really love to see our state to really rally around our educational institutions and find ways to help them to be able to produce more nurses, to be able to infuse back into our communities.

Rob: So how did we get into this shortage?

McHenry: Well, there’s several factors. The baby boomer nurses are retiring. When our economy had some difficulties back around 2008, many of those nurses were getting ready to retire, but because of that they came back into the workforce. But now what we’re seeing is that many of those nurses are preparing now to retire for the second time, and so we’re going to lose a significant number of nurses to retirement. Plus, the average age of a nurse is in the 50s. So when you look at that, that means we don’t have enough young people in the profession. And so with it being a primarily female profession still, that has implications as well. So there are factors of that nature that’s contributing to the shortage. The other piece of that is, we’re living longer. We’re sicker. Our needs are more complex than they’ve ever been. And so that is having an impact of the type of nurse that needs to be at the bedside. The research has shown that a nurse with a baccalaureate of science in nursing has better outcomes at the bedside than any other level nurse. So many hospitals are wanting to hire baccalaureate prepared nurses because they want those positive outcomes because then that impacts their reimbursement. So all of these factors play in together in order to really bring about the type of outcomes we want for the patient, but also the types of outcomes that hospitals are wanting.

Rob: Now, if you would like to learn more about Oklahoma Baptist University, I was able to sit down with Will Smallwood, OBU’s vice president for advancement and university relations, to talk about some of the exciting new things going on at OBU, and that is streaming at