Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nursing School Putting Stimulus Dollars to Work in the Classroom

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently visited the UMKC Hospital Hill Campus and the School of Nursing to announce the “Caring for Missourians” initiative, which will invest $40 million during fiscal year 2010 to help Missouri’s public colleges and universities increase their capacity to train students to work in critical-need health care positions.

By some estimates, we are facing a shortage of nearly 150,000 nurses in this country right now and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that shortage could reach as high as 500,000 by the year 2025. Missouri's hospitals alone are currently facing a shortage of more than 7 percent, or more than 1,500, of the registered nurses they need to serve their patients.

The UMKC School of Nursing will receive $1.7 million of the Caring for Missourians funds, which will be used in several different areas. We have already begun working to initiate and recruit for our new accelerated BSN program. This program allows students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline to earn their BSN in 18 months. We anticipate accepting students this fall to begin nursing course work Spring Semester 2010.

Earlier this year, the School of Nursing received funding to launch our Rural Nursing Initiative, a program designed to increase the numbers of baccalaureate prepared registered nurses serving populations in rural areas where the nursing shortage is particularly severe. We’ve integrated the Rural Nursing Initiative into our RN-BSN distance education program and are currently enrolling students for the 2009 fall semester.

As we, along with nursing schools across the country, continue to expand our efforts to graduate more nurses, we will need more educators, so we will also be committing some of the Caring for Missourians funds to enhance and expand our nurse educator program. Students can receive the MSN degree with the nurse educator focus or a doctoral degree with additional course work in education. All these programs, MSN Nurse Educator, PhD in Nursing and the Doctorate of Nursing Practice are on-line programs and will prepare nurse educators to employ cutting-edge teaching strategies in didactic, on-line and clinical settings.

All of these programs depend on the School of Nursing’s state-of-the-art distance learning or simulation technology, so we will dedicate a portion of the funds we receive to enhancing and maintaining the school’s clinical simulation center and enhancing our on-line courses and our computer networking capabilities.

This one-time infusion of funding from the Caring for Missourians initiative offers the School of Nursing an immediate and much-welcomed opportunity to implement new programs and further strengthen our current ones. But the nationwide shortage of health care professionals is a long-term problem that will continue to require state funding. We at the School of Nursing, along with our colleagues at the UMKC Hospital Hill Campus, support Governor Nixon’s commitment to find ways to continue state funding in 2011 and beyond.

-Lora Lacey-Haun, RN, PhD, Dean, UMKC School of Nursing

*In picture: Governor Jay Nixon (left), Lora Lacey-Haun, Dean, UMKC School of Nursing (center-right), and Leo E. Morton, UMKC Chancellor (right)

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