WKU School of Nursing and Allied Health receives $479,000 grant to address nursing shortage
- Wednesday, August 10th, 2022
The School of Nursing and Allied Health (SONAH) in the WKU College of Health and Human Services recently received a $479,000 grant from the Healthcare Workforce Collaborative of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). CPE is providing grants to Kentucky’s public universities and community and technical colleges to expand much needed programs that train healthcare professionals.
According to Dr. Mary Bennett, Director of SONAH, WKU has a long history of producing highly qualified nurses for the Kentucky workforce. Over the past 5 years the BSN program has graduated an average of 153 nurses each year, and the ASN program has generated an additional 94 nurses each year. However, with the recent pandemic, Kentucky is set to face a 15-20% nursing workforce shortage, resulting in over 15,000 open nursing positions in the next 2 years. To meet this need, all nursing programs in Kentucky need to attract, admit, and graduate more students than ever before.
To address the nursing workforce shortage, SONAH will use the funding to increase the visibility of their programs to attract more people into nursing and increase acceptance rates for qualified applicants. SONAH also plans to add 40 seats to the State Registered Nurse Aide program for high school students and increase the percentage of students employed in health care while in school. SONAH aims to enroll at least 120 students a year in the LPN to ASN program, an increase of 80 students, and create a pathway so more community college students can transfer into the SONAH BSN program.
“This grant will enable the WKU SONAH to expand its programming to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them as we both work together to address the healthcare shortage across the region,” shared Catherine Malin, Center Director for South Central KY Area Health Education Center (AHEC). SONAH partners with AHEC on the State Registered Nurse Aide program (SRNA) that trains pre-health profession students to be nurse aides. The SRNA program enables students to begin working in healthcare while completing their studies.
Another aspect of the collaborative includes an advisory group of healthcare providers and educators that according to the CPE, will meet every other month for the next year to establish long-term plans and strategies to strengthen the healthcare workforce pipeline. Dr. Tania Basta, Dean of the WKU College of Health and Human Services will serve on this CPE advisory group.
Dr. Basta shared, “We are thrilled that we received this funding from CPE. If we are successful in meeting our objectives from this funded grant, we will increase our annual nursing enrollment to nearly 1,200 across all programs, which will increase the number of graduating nurses who can help meet the workforce demands regionally and state-wide. I am also honored to serve on the Healthcare Workforce Collaborative to work alongside academic leaders, state leaders, policy experts, and the healthcare leaders to solve our health care shortage in the Commonwealth.”
For more information about WKU SONAH, visit www.wku.edu/nursing. For more information about WKU College of Health and Human Services visit www.wku.edu/chhs.