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Nov 30, 2022 -- maegan.martin

Redlands Community College, Western Oklahoma State College awarded $2.75 million

EL RENO, Okla. — Healthcare in rural Oklahoma continues to be impacted by a lack of providers, but a five-year federal grant totaling $2.75 million awarded to Redlands Community College in El Reno and Western Oklahoma State College in Altus is designed to address the healthcare shortage.

Redlands, designated a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTI) program, partnered with Western to submit a proposal for the NASNTI Part A Cooperative Arrangement Development Grant. Through targeted outreach and recruitment, success coaching, the development of a cultural competency micro-credential and offering of a Health Careers Edventure program, the two colleges plan to use the funding to increase the number of nursing graduates and expand tribal partnerships in their 10-county service areas.

“Redlands has been a historically strong NASNTI partner, and we’re excited about this opportunity to use this funding to collaborate with Western,” said Redlands President Jack Bryant. “Our primary service areas encompass many rural communities and tribal areas, so we are anxious to get this initiative implemented so we can begin attacking this healthcare crisis.”

The partnership between Redlands and Western is designed to address the nursing shortage by increasing student capacity in both colleges’ nursing programs as well as address the level of care provided to Native American tribes. Through the NASNTI grant, a director will oversee success coaches and outreach specialists assigned to each campus who will assist with student retention, persistence and completion. They will also focus on recruiting and creating pathways for more students, including those with local tribes and nations, to pursue education and careers in healthcare.

According to The Commonwealth Fund, Oklahoma’s health system is ranked 49th in the nation. Oklahoma also ranks 5th for states with the most rural hospital closures since 2005, and nationally, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, over 100,000 nurses left positions in hospitals in 2021. Between hospital closures and a shortage of nurses, rural areas and tribes are finding it difficult to meet the needs of its citizens.

“Quality healthcare is pivotal to the sustainability of rural Oklahoma. NASNTI funding will allow us to enhance our efforts already placed on rural nursing and add a new focus on the success of nursing students in tribal areas,” said WOSC President Chad Wiginton. “Partnering with Redlands Community College on this critical initiative will impact 10 rural counties inclusive of nine federally recognized Native American tribes and nations. We are excited about the opportunity and honored to be a part of this timely collaboration.”

In addition to the lack of access to healthcare, there are other barriers for Oklahoma’s Native American tribes and nations, including lack of cultural understanding in healthcare. Developing a better understanding of the cultures in different tribes and nations will enable healthcare providers to better meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of Native Americans. To address the need for cultural competency in healthcare, Redlands and Western nursing staff will collaborate with healthcare experts in local area tribes and nations to develop culturally relevant curriculum.

“This NASNTI grant and partnership with Western will provide a significant boost to initiatives recently put in place to address a growing shortage of nurses in Oklahoma. This initiative not only provides the ability to train more nurses, but address a critical shortage in rural and tribal areas of Oklahoma,” said Redlands Board of Regents Chair Janie Thompson. “The academic support and recruitment elements included in this grant go beyond providing additional training positions for nursing students, but also provides for success.”

While targeted outreach and recruitment of adult students is the focal point of this grant program, there is also a need to provide more information about healthcare careers to youth, specifically Native American children. Through the creation of a Health Careers Edventure program, outreach about careers in healthcare will begin at earlier ages.

WOSC Board Chair Debbie Cox added, “As we saw during the COVID pandemic and continue to see to this day, our healthcare system cannot operate effectively without quality nurses. Western Oklahoma State College is proud to be one of the state institutions that is a pipeline for this essential career field. The NASNTI grant with Redlands is a wonderful way to join forces and expand our current efforts.”   

This five-year grant is designed for Native American and low-income students, and is 100% funded by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI) program.

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Recent News

Randall named 2024 Teacher of the Year

May 20, 2024

Western Oklahoma State College is proud to announce that Rachel Randall, a distinguished biology instructor, has been named the 2024 Teacher of the Year. This prestigious award, determined through nominations by the entire student body and a subsequent selection by the Student Senate, recognizes exceptional dedication and excellence in teaching. 

Rachel Randall has consistently demonstrated a profound commitment to her students, both academically and personally. The nominations submitted by students highlight her extraordinary impact on their educational experiences and personal growth. Here are some of the heartfelt comments from students who nominated her: 

"To me, this teacher has been one of the most caring teachers I know on campus, and I think is the most deserving of this award. Not only because they are an amazing teacher but also because they are the most caring human being. Anytime I need help with something they are always there to help me even if they don't know anything about it, they will learn about it just for me. They are always willing to go above and beyond for every single one of their students and I am completely grateful for that!" 

"I have had the privilege of having this teacher for two different classes. They are knowledgeable and caring. They go above and beyond for their students even when they don't have to. There have been countless times when I have gone to this teacher for help in other classes and if they don't know they takes the time to sit with you and look it up, they make sure you leave their office understanding what you didn't understand when you got into their office with the question. They truly care about their students, and them gaining the knowledge they need to succeed." 

Randall's dedication to her students is evident in every interaction, whether in the classroom or during one-on-one consultations. Her willingness to go the extra mile to ensure her students succeed is what makes her a truly remarkable educator and a deserving recipient of this year's Teacher of the Year award.


What is Western Oklahoma State College?

  • About

    Western Oklahoma State College, established as Altus Junior College in 1926, is the oldest original municipal two-year college still in existence in Oklahoma...
    [About WOSC]
  • Vision

    Western Oklahoma State College aspires to be the outstanding and innovative community college known for its focus on student success and its service to community and regional development.
  • Mission

    The mission of Western Oklahoma State College is to provide high quality education while ensuring equity, supporting student success, and empowering individuals to become productive members of diverse local, regional, and global communities.