Jane Nelson ONA HSC Practical Nursing

Amid workforce shortage, ONA director tours nurse training program

"We definitely need more LPN's." - Jane Nelson, ONA Executive Director

Jane Nelson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Nurses Association, took a firsthand look at the process of training new nurses on Monday.

She toured the Practical Nursing program and the Health Sciences Center Skills Lab at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Practical Nursing Program Director LaDonna Selvidge and Health Sciences Center Director Stephanie Harris showed Nelson the hands-on learning opportunities Francis Tuttle nursing students receive before they enter the workforce.

“We get as close to the real thing as possible,” Selvidge said. “So our students are ready from the first day they start their job.”

Nelson is interested in the process of becoming a nurse in Oklahoma, as there is a workforce shortage and it is a vital industry for the state. While there are several nursing positions to choose from, hospitals and healthcare facilities in the state are in particular need of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s).

“It hasn’t been a sudden drop, but we’ve seen a slow decrease in LPN’s over time,” Nelson said. “I know we need RN’s [registered nurses], but we definitely need more LPN’s.”

The Practical Nursing Program at Francis Tuttle is designed to provide a hands-on learning experience that simulates the real world. Nelson saw the many labs that simulate hospital settings in the Health Sciences Center Skills labs, complete with medical-grade equipment and dummies for students to practice on.

Nelson said that the hands-on component of training is important for nurses. Hospitals are telling ONA that several graduates who enter the workforce aren’t ready for all of the challenges they face, Nelson said.

HSC Jane Nelson Labs

One benefit of the Francis Tuttle program is that it partners with several hospitals for clinical sites, Selvidge said.

“With our students, we have a lot of clinical sites to choose from,” she said. “And they see a lot of different patients during that time. So when they graduate, we see them transition into that professional setting much more easily.”

Nelson also got to see the Anatomage Table, a state-of-the-art learning tool that intricately simulates the dissection of a human cadaver. Students get to see multiple layers of the human body, identify their location, see their function, and diagnose issues just as they would in a professional setting.

Nelson Anatomage Table HSC tour

Francis Tuttle is one of eight CareerTech centers in the state to be nationally accredited. It also takes additional steps to lessen the administrative burden on students as much as possible so they can focus on learning.

“We’re the only tech center that pays for the students’ board exams,” Selvidge said. “Students receive assessments throughout the year to check on their progress, and we’ll go back and make sure everything they need to know is covered. The school really pours a lot back into the students, and it makes a big difference.”

by Adam Troxtell - May 7, 2024