TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KTEN) — Murray State College and the University of Oklahoma have announced a partnership to extend educational opportunities for nursing undergraduates or nursing grads with an associate's degree.

 "We can guide them toward that — whether it  started with us, or if it's going straight to OU to get their bachelor's first round."

The agreement will let six qualified undergraduate nursing students at MSC attend in-person classes and training at OU sites in Lawton and Duncan.

All nursing associate degree graduates will be able to pursue their bachelor's certificate online.

"According to Oklahoma Works, it's the second most critical job need in the state of Oklahoma," said Murray State College President Dr. Tim Faltyn. "We have a hospital partner that I was talking with the other day. He said, 'We have 100 job openings; 70 of them are for registered nurses.'"

Murray State College is expanding its nursing program by partnering with OU.

The partnership is aimed at keeping nursing grads in rural Oklahoma. For the Love County Health Center, agreements like this can help hospital staff grow.

"It's mind-blowing how competitive that market is for new nurses," said Health Center nurse manager Megan Stephens. "The smaller hospitals are really going to have to make sure that with our newer nurses, that we're promoting ourselves. I'm hoping to see programs such as the Murray State-OU agreement allow us to keep those grads here."

The agreement between MSC and OU will begin for nursing students in the fall, and will be open to all nurses with any specialization.