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Monday, November 29, 2021  

NESA’s Reputation RecoversPublished 11/18/2002

Last year as a newcomer to Oklahoma City, I decided one of the ways I should orient myself for my dean’s position at Oklahoma City University was to visit all the area nursing programs I possibly could. It was a great method for getting acquainted and becoming familiar with issues affecting nursing schools in this part of the state.

As I related in this column after concluding the visits, almost everyone I met had asked me with a tone of despair, "Have you heard about NESA yet?" (NESA is the Nursing Education and Service Administrators of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area). Their messages were confirmed by my own experience at the Fall 2001 NESA negotiation meeting where nursing schools maneuvered for clinical experience sites for their students.

The meeting lasted many hours. Frustrations were soon apparent. Tears flowed. I witnessed scoldings, rude behavior, unwillingness to negotiate, hostility, and lots of unhappy whispering. In that column on NESA a year ago I explained why I thought Oklahoma City in particular faces such difficulties. The reaction I received to that column was overwhelmingly supportive of my comments and recommendations.

A year has now passed. The Fall 2002 NESA negotiation meeting was held recently. The issues that challenge nursing schools to find adequate clinical spots for students in the Oklahoma City area continue to be:

1. Large numbers of nursing students need clinical experience.

2. Non-metro area schools want to use Oklahoma City because rural facilities cannot provide adequate patient censuses.

3. Some hospitals give preference to certain schools or certain types of programs.

4. Nursing schools have a shortage of faculty. In order to attract faculty, most schools have to offer convenient work hours, putting a higher demand on clinical opportunities during weekday shifts at hospitals and other agencies.

5. Hospitals have reduced the number of students allowed per unit because of the acuity of patients and shortage of nurses.

These issues have not changed. However, in large part because of what happened last year and in small part because of my column, NESA redesigned the clinical placement system. I am pleased to report that it made an impressive difference in the stress level at this fall’s negotiation meeting. Much of the bartering and positioning happened in advance, so that the finalization of clinical placements at the joint meeting went quite smoothly this time. Barbara Patterson worked hard on coordinating the logistical details and communicating changes. Some of the behind the scenes discussions were not always friendly and full of mutual compromise, but the public image and collaborative mission of NESA has been restored.

I also give credit to the hospitals that sent representatives to the meeting. Their presence streamlined the process because they could answer questions and make instant decisions about issues at the meeting that could not have been predicted.

Thank you to all who worked this past year to improve NESA’s procedures.

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