Open Resources for Nursing, a Chippewa Valley Technical College-led project, is progressing with the launch of Nursing Skills, the second volume of the first open education resources textbooks for Nursing that will save thousands of dollars for nursing students around the country.

Nursing Skills joins Nursing Pharmacology as part of a five-book series of high quality, nationally peer-reviewed nursing titles available for free digital download. XanEdu, an educational products and services company, also publishes an affordable soft-cover version of the textbooks. A third volume, Nursing Fundamentals, will be available later this year, with Nursing: Mental Health and Community Concepts and Nursing Management and Professional Concepts available in 2022, according to CVTC Nursing instructor and project director Kim Ernstmeyer, who has been working exclusively on the project since June 2019.

The project is made possible by a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant involving all 16 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) schools, with CVTC as the lead institution. Students can use open-source textbooks without incurring the cost of purchasing books published by private publishers, with the costs often being hundreds of dollars. Educational institutions are free to adapt open-source textbooks to their curriculums without concerns over copyrights.

“Open Educational Resources is a growing movement in higher education,” said Vince Mussehl, CVTC’s director of library services and executive committee member of the state’s open education organization, Community for Open Wisconsin. “However, there have been few OER resources in the health fields. The development of the Nursing OER textbooks is a major step forward in filling that gap. This project has been receiving a lot of attention from around the country.”

“The textbooks are collaboratively written by Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) nursing faculty and undergo a national review process by nursing faculty, administrators, librarians, nursing students, and industry representatives to ensure high-quality, current content according to industry standards,” Ernstmeyer said. “The free Open RN e-books contain online learning activities and virtual simulations to assist students to learn complex concepts and apply them to patient care.”

“The Open RN project is one example of CVTC’s initiative to reduce textbooks costs and promote affordable learning materials for all students,” Mussehl added.

“We estimate the impact of the overall Open RN project for Wisconsin nursing students will be textbooks savings of $1.5 million annually,” Ernstmeyer continued. “We are thrilled to discover the Open RN textbooks are being adopted nationally and internationally by other nursing programs, resulting in additional student savings around the world. Open RN textbooks also promote equity and student success by making free learning materials available to all students on Day One of class.”

The free Nursing Skills e-book and downloadable versions are available at

wtcs.pressbooks.pub/nursingskills. The print version is available through campus bookstores or on Amazon.

More information about the Open RN project is available at cvtc.edu/landing-pages/grants/open-rn.

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