Back to School 2013: Local colleges use partnerships to advance education

Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks

Aug. 13, 2013

Editors Note: Below is an exerpt from an article that ran in the August 7, 2013 edition of the Lake Today on different academic partnerships that exist in the Lake of the Ozarks area.

The Lake Area is home to satellite campuses of three higher-education institutions: Columbia College, State Fair Community College and Central Methodist University. But the learning opportunities each offers are not limited to the location; partnerships formed among the community and even with other colleges help spread the educational opportunities even farther.

Columbia College

Columbia College – Lake of the Ozarks started its nursing program in 2005, and the program has been linked with Lake Regional Hospital from the beginning.

“They were integral to really starting the program because of the shortage of nurses at the time,” said Linda Claycomb, head of the nursing department at Columbia College.

Lake Regional donated funds to help start the registered nurse program at Columbia College, as well as supplies and equipment for a skills lab.

“The nursing lab at the college was totally set up by Lake Regional Hospital. That was an important piece of getting started,” Claycomb said. The hospital continues to help stock the lab and subsidizes instructor salaries.

The college accepts one nursing class of 32 students each year at the lake campus for a 14-month associate’s degree program.

Lake Regional Hospital interacts with the college’s nursing program continually by allowing student nurses to complete clinical rotations at the hospital’s facilities.

“The majority of local Columbia College students complete their clinical rotations at Lake Regional, which helps the students get acquainted with the organization and build relationships with the staff members,” said Jennifer Bethurem of Lake Regional Health System.

Tasks performed during clinicals start basic – giving baths, making beds, completing physical assessment and vital signs – and become more complex with time – passing medications, giving injections, starting and removing IVs, inserting and removing nasogastric tubes and catheters, and more.

“They have great facilities to train our students, and I think the linkage our students have during their clinical time leads many of our students to work at Lake Regional,” Claycomb said.
That link has helped Lake Regional keep more nurses steadily employed.

“The partnership dramatically has reduced the hospital’s RN vacancy rates – it has dropped from 10 percent to below 2 percent – and has nearly eliminated expenditures for agency nurses,” Bethurem said.

Since Columbia College’s first nursing class graduated in 2006, more than 200 nurses have completed the program, with almost 90 joining Lake Regional’s staff. The hospital hired four graduates in the last year.

“Turnover is expensive, and it’s hard for any institution if you constantly have a turnover of staff coming and going,” Claycomb said. “With less turnover it’s a more stable nursing staff and patient outcomes are higher.”

With that in mind, Claycomb said Columbia College’s arrangement with Lake Regional Hospital is beneficial for both institutions.

“That’s been a very strong partnership and a lot of reason for the success of the Columbia College lake program,” Claycomb said.