The Missouri State Board of Nursing has approved the expansion of an innovative, student-centered approach to help paramedics become licensed nurses while also addressing the nursing shortage in Missouri.

The program, offered by Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC), gained the Board’s approval to offer paramedics admission to their already existing asynchronous hybrid LPN to RN nursing program. The paramedics must complete an eight-week introduction to nursing course before being admitted into the program. This course will first be offered to paramedics in March of 2021.

“Ozarks Technical Community College is a leader in nursing education,” said Bibi Schultz, director of education for the Missouri State Board of Nursing. “This innovative approach to provide direct articulation for LPNs, and now paramedics, to earn their Associate of Science Degree in Nursing and become RNs continues to demonstrate the college’s commitment to address the needs of their students. This allows students to facilitate their learning while working and meeting obligations which may be barriers to enrollment in a traditional nursing program.”

Tena Wheeler, director of the nursing program at Ozarks Technical Community College, said the addition of paramedics to the program was something requested by the community.

“This approach is one that will allow the student to continue to work as a paramedic while working toward their nursing degree,” Wheeler said. “It’s a truly cost effective way to achieve their personal and professional goals.”

The OTC program was also granted approval to expand the number of students they can accept and will add an additional cohort to their already existing four cohorts.

The Board of Nursing has made working with nursing programs who have creative ideas to approach teaching and learning a high priority as the state’s nursing shortage continues.

“Working with the Board of Nursing has always been a great experience,” Wheeler said. “They’re the first place I call when we have an innovative idea.”