OHSU Targets Bend for its Next Nursing Degree Program

BEND, Ore. — Starting in July, the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) will begin an accelerated nursing bachelor’s degree program in Bend, as part of its statewide effort to address the critical shortage of nursing professionals in Oregon.


There was an Exodus from the Profession after the Pandemic

The OHSU initially launched the nursing degree in 2022 and has since graduated 128 students from its program, aimed at curtailing the shortage of nurses following an exodus from the profession after the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on exhausted nursing staff who faced burnout.

By 2021, 75% of the 2,100 nursing positions available were vacant, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

The project in Bend which has attracted eight students, is being launched by the OHSU in collaboration with the St. Charles Health System, a non-profit corporation employing more than 3,000 people in Central Oregon. The system operates and owns the St. Charles Medical Centers in Madras, Prineville, Redmond, and has its headquarters in Bend. It also owns several clinics throughout the state.

The OHSU expansion into Bend follows its accelerated bachelors nursing programs that are now available in Portland and Ashland.


About the Degree Program

The OHSU program is an intensive course spread across 15 months and is designed for students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree in another field. The course prepares them for a career in nursing. Education officials have designed the degree program to pave the way for a career that is in dire need of bolstering in the Oregon region.

This new course is offered in association with St. Charles Health System whose hospital in Bend has the only level-two trauma center east of the Cascades equipped to handle severe and complex injuries in both children and adults. The St. Charles Health System is the largest work-giver in the industry in Central Oregon.

Another collaborator in the Bend project is the Central Oregon Community College which has made its campus available for the new nursing degree program. Classes will include simulated training for students to obtain first-hand experience provided via hospitals and clinics owned by the St. Charles group.

Students will be matched to their areas of expertise and interest and once graduated, can apply to work as a resident student nurse with the St. Charles Health System. The two-year residency program offers mentorship and hands-on training, allowing nurses to specialize in their desired fields such as operating rooms and emergency departments. With its stipulation that applicants already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, the accelerated nursing program paves the way for students to fast-track a change of profession.



The Central Oregon Community College is developing a bachelor’s degree in nursing for students who do not hold another bachelor’s degree. This degree course will run separately to the OHSU accelerated program and could start at the beginning of the 2025 school year.

The healthcare industry faces ever-increasing demands for services as populations grow and the need for senior citizen care increases because of expanding lifespans.

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