Cox College, a Springfield-based nursing school, plans to open satellite campuses at Monett's Scott Regional Technology Center and Cox Medical Center in Branson next year, college officials recently announced.

Both campuses will offer courses for associate degrees in nursing, although other degree programs could eventually be added; classes will be offered on nights and weekends. The first cohort of 10 students at each location will begin coursework in January 2021.

"There is a real need in those communities," said Amy Townsend, chief nursing administrator at Cox College, in a statement. "We want to help build the workforce in Branson and Monett with local nurses who are invested."

Anessa Garner, career services coordinator at the Scott Regional Technology Center, said the addition of the Cox College campus is a "natural fit" for Monett and its rural health care needs. A new CoxHealth hospital is currently under construction there.

"This partnership will provide a bridge for not only residents of our community to pursue a degree in nursing, but also for our own health occupations students to make a seamless transition to higher education in the field of health care," she said in a statement.

Informational sessions about the new program will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Cox Branson and at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at Scott Regional Technology Center. To apply, contact Cox College's admissions department at 417-269-3401 or admissions@coxcollege.edu.

Cox College was recently approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing to accept 150 more nursing students incrementally over the next few years to combat a national and regional shortage of nurses, the college said. By 2023, it plans to accept up to 400 nursing students.

'2 Plus 2' plan

Crowder College in Neosho also recently signed an agreement to benefit its own students, including nursing students.

The "2 Plus 2" transfer plan in general establishes a seamless transfer for Crowder students to Missouri State University in Springfield after completion of an associate degree. It also specifically articulates that students completing their associate degree in nursing at Crowder will be able to directly continue to Missouri State to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing.

"Crowder College strives to expand partnerships and opportunities for all of our students to continue their academic journey beyond graduation," said Keith Zoromski, associate vice president of academic affairs, in a statement.

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