New Law Provides More Doctor & Nurse Training in Oklahoma

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New Law Provides More Doctor & Nurse Training in Oklahoma

Measure expected to fund 70 medical residents, 110 nurses and 50 nurse practitioners annually

Leaders from the University of Oklahoma (OU), OU Health and the Oklahoma Legislature gathered Tuesday to celebrate Senate Bill 79 becoming law.

SB 79, which was recently signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, restores a historic sales tax credit to free up funds for OU Health to train:

  • 70 medical residents within 3 years
  • 110 nursing graduates a year
  • 50 new nurse practitioners a year

University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz Jr., said SB 79 is well-timed as OU Physicians, the University Hospitals Authority and Trust and OU Medicine, Inc. prepare to merge.

“As we create Oklahoma’s first truly integrated, comprehensive academic health system, SB 79 will further our central work of educating tomorrow’s health professionals and creating a healthier Oklahoma,” Harroz said. “Critically, it will help address our state’s physician shortage, because we know doctors who train here, stay here.”

Oklahoma ranks No. 46 in physicians per capita, but No. 11 in the nation for retaining medical residents.

“SB 79 is a major step forward for developing Oklahoma’s healthcare workforce,” said Chuck Spicer, OU Medicine, Inc. president and CEO. “Our state faces a shortage of doctors and nurses, and this law will help OU Health generate healthcare providers with the breadth of experience that only a comprehensive academic health system can provide. We offer our thanks to the House and Senate, the bill authors, leadership in both houses for moving the bill forward, and to the governor for his signature.”

Legislative leaders discussed how much SB 79 will help solve a real problem.

“SB 79 addresses our state’s shortage of doctors and nurses in a responsible way, and Oklahomans across the state will share in the benefits,” said Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, who authored the bill in the Senate. “This is important for health and important for economic development.”

House author Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, agreed.

“Increasing the number of health care professionals serving our state will help us improve health outcomes for all Oklahomans,” said Wallace. “This will lead not only to better lives but a healthier state economy for our taxpayers.”

Harroz noted a broad effort was required to raise the level of healthcare across the state.

“Administrators, academics, clinicians, lawmakers and elected officials all came together to make this happen, and we’re thankful for their passion and dedication to serving all Oklahomans,” he said. “Everyone involved in this effort deserves the thanks of Oklahomans who will soon enjoy better access to high-quality healthcare.”