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How Webcasting Helped Wayne State Fight the Nursing Shortage

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Wayne State University (WSU) is a Detroit institution comprising 13 colleges and schools offering more than 350 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate levels. These colleges cover a wide range of topics, from business administration to education to nursing.

Within this environment lies the College of Nursing, which consists of about 600 students, faculty, and staff. The institution educates its students for careers as "practitioners and scholars who provide leadership for the profession and discipline of nursing," according to its website, and it is recognized for its research into the areas of self-care, caregiving, and urban health.

Sidetracked by the Shortage
The college, much like the rest of the nursing world, has been hit by the current national nursing shortage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016. In addition, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth stated that the shortage of registered nurses in the state would total 7,000 by 2010 and 18,000 by 2015.

According to Nicole Puente, director of information technology at the College of Nursing, that means that nurses are being overworked and overscheduled. In order to fix this problem, more individuals must make their way through the education system and into hospitals, she says.

"The way that Wayne State is trying to address that is to increase the master’s programs to educate the current nurses so they can cycle back into the educational field to teach more undergraduate students to get them out there in the working environment," she says.

However, a second consequence of the shortage prevented this. According to the WSU website, the school has had to turn away many qualified College of Nursing applicants because of a Michigan state mandate that requires an 8-1 ratio of students to faculty. Unable to hire more teachers, the school decided to embrace online courses and distance learning, according to Puente.

Going Online
To accomplish this task, the college got in touch with Accordent Technologies, Inc. in the fall of 2006. The company’s products are already in use for lecture capture and live webcasting at about 450 other institutions—including Lehigh University, Harvard University, Rutgers University, and MIT—and Accordent vice president of marketing Darian Germain says it was more than willing to help WSU.

"This is a key market for us," she says. "Our solution fits in really well with what they wanted to do because we let them automatically capture video and graphics that are happening during the lectures and publish those as live or on-demand rich media presentations."

The College of Nursing ended up using Accordent’s Capture Station and Media Management System technologies. The Capture Stations, of which WSU has purchased three, allow users to record webcast presentations and make them available over the internet. Germain says the appliances come as either part of a turnkey solution that includes a video card, capture card, and required software or as a stand-alone product that can be used with existing hardware. WSU decided to use its own existing systems with the Capture Stations.

"In the case of Nicole [Puente], she had existing hardware and systems, and she’s a very savvy IT person," Germain says. "She happens to have two of those Capture Stations rack-mounted, so she can actually dynamically allocate them as she needs them to different rooms."

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