ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - The new Murray at Mercy program began its first semester on Jan. 14.
Their classroom area is an old ICU, renovated to become a learning environment.
The Mercy Health Foundation gave more than $200,000 to fund renovations for a classroom, two hospital room labs and a study lounge.
“Most, if not all, of what you see here was provided by that foundation board," Debbie Pender, Mercy Vice President, said.
Sarah Way works at Mercy full time as a respiratory therapist and wants to further her education in health care.
She is one of the 15 students in the inaugural class.
“We really like it," Way said. "It’s nice. It’s convenient. It has everything we need and it’s close to home for most of us so we don’t have to drive. We can all get together and study and be close to one another.”
Way said the location of the facility will be great for hands on experience with real patients.
“You know, we’re at a hospital so if we need to see something, we can go actually see it," Way said. "It helps put what you learn together as far as what it really looks like in the clinical setting.”
The Murray at Mercy program was just an idea in January 2018 when East Central University withdrew the nursing program from University Center of Southern Oklahoma in Ardmore.
Now, it is a reality with the first group of students planned to graduate in December 2020.
Robin Coppedge, Murray State College Nursing Program Chair, said the school is excited the December graduations from Ardmore and May graduations from the Tishomingo campus will produce around 90 registered nurses each year to fill the ever-growing need for nurses around the nation.
Officials in health care say there will not be enough registered nurses in the near future as the Baby Boomer generation ages and the need for health care grows.
However, the Murray at Mercy program will fight against the shortage.
“I can’t even hardly believe that it’s here and we’ve already got it going and starting," Coppedge said. "I think it’s just a great opportunity to provide more nurses in the community.”
Official with MSC said the next Murray at Mercy class will have 20 students and will begin in January 2020.