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COOS COUNTY — Southwestern Oregon Community College is moving forward with its expansion plans this fall as it adds new faculty members and students to its nursing program.

New SWOCC director of nursing Joannie Miller, who began her position last month, said this year the plan is to increase enrollment by 16 students as well as secure new clinical sites for students to participate in.

“We’ve been talking with Lower Umpqua Hospital in Reedsport about being a new potential clinical site for our students,” said Miller. “So far, the staff there is ecstatic to work with us.”

While not yet set in place, Miller said she is hopeful that the hospital will become a partner in helping get student’s real-world, hands-on experience. Students spend an average of 12 hours per week in the nursing skills laboratory and at clinical practice sites, which include Bay Area Hospital, Coquille Valley Hospital and Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

“I’m really excited to get going,” said Miller. “Clinical placements give facilities in our area amazing opportunities to qualified hire nurses.”

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Miller, who has worked as nurse practitioner for over 15 years, also said the program is expanding its staff by adding new instructors.

“Our goal is to have all the full-time master prepared nurse instructors teach the theory classes and pull in more clinical instructors to teach at clinical sites,” she said. “We are also looking to have our associate prepared instructors available to teach the labs. It’s about spreading the facility as best we can.”

The nursing program will move its location to the new the Umpqua Health & Science Building on campus sometime next year. The new facility will aid in the programs overall expansion plans, said Miller.  Its Curry campus is also looking to increase its enrollment by six students this upcoming school year.

Last year, 24 students graduated from the program and with improvements underway and increased enrollment that number is expected to rise.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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