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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new solution to the nursing shortage in Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma is announcing a new initiative that hopes to meet the state’s workforce needs by dramatically increasing enrollment. 

“This is historical. There’s probably not a college in the nation that can say that they’re doing this today,” said Dean of Ziegler College of Nurse Dr. Julie Hoff. 

OU’s strategy to enhance the state’s nurse workforce was announced Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Governor Stitt and other state leaders attended the announcement event. 

“We can’t thank them enough. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our health care professionals who have worked so tirelessly to protect Oklahomans over the last couple of years,” said Governor Stitt.

“We have a crisis today, a crisis where people are literally dying. Let’s tap every resource we have,” said the President of the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Joseph Harroz.

For the first time in OU history, the university plans to accept 100% of all qualified applicants. 

For the incoming fall 2022 class, that’s 555 nursing students – compared to last year, when the university was unable to admit more than 225 applicants due to a lack of space.

“We have to also have places for these individuals to practice in a clinical setting which requires all of the hospitals, including OU health, to be a partner,” said Harroz. 

The funding to support the increase in enrollment comes from funds generated through the sales tax exemption for the University Hospitals Authority and Trust, additional appropriations from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, university funding, and generous donor support. 

Dr. Harroz stated that increasing enrollment is only one of the many ways OU supports the state’s need for more nurses.

“This is a crisis we have to get through. With this kind of can-do attitude in leadership, we will get through it,” said Dr. Harroz.

It is essential to note OU is not lowering the academic standards. It’s only growing the nursing program. 

The university also offers an expedited 14-month program to get nurses deployed sooner.