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Grant will help Kitty DeGree School of Nursing increase students, faculty

Published February 20, 2019

In 2018, the Louisiana Center for Nursing reported that in 2017 schools in the state could not accommodate some 1,400 qualified applicants for registered nurse training due to faculty-capacity issues. Simply put, there were not enough nurses teaching nursing in enough classrooms.

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To have a shortage of nursing faculty at north Louisiana schools naturally results in a shortage of nurses. This dismal balance, however, is about to change. 

The University of Louisiana Monroe Kitty DeGree School of Nursing is participating in the Nursing Adjunct Faculty Project. Also in the project are Louisiana Tech University and Delta Community College nursing programs. The goal is to graduate up to 180 more nurses among the three schools than they would otherwise have the capacity to produce over a three-year period. To reach this goal, more adjunct nursing instructors will be hired and more students accepted. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation recently awarded Workforce Development Board 83 a $300,000 grant to employ qualified nurses as adjunct clinical instructors. The Living Well Foundation provided an additional $44,000 to the WDB-83.

Wendy Bailes, Ph.D., RN, Associate Professor and Interim Director of Kitty DeGree School of Nursing, explained, saying, “The Kitty DeGree School of Nursing has had the privilege to collaborate with the Northeast Louisiana Healthcare Alliance (NELAHCA), Workforce Development Board 83 and our fellow nursing programs at Louisiana Delta Community College and Louisiana Tech University to provide ways to potentially increase our region’s nursing workforce through increased admissions.”

“Through the collaboration, Kitty DeGree School of Nursing will be able to increase the enrollment number up to 10 additional students per semester, from the budgeted amount. This number is determined at the end of each semester and is affected by multiple factors,” Bailes said.
“It is only through the hard work of the Workforce Development Board 83 in writing the grant and the Northeast Louisiana Healthcare Alliance’s willingness to not only provide, but encourage, their master’s prepared nurses to step into the clinical faculty role,” said Bailes.

Using the new grant, the Workforce Development Board will provide for six adjunct instructor positions. Nine healthcare facilities have agreed to host clinicals for students in nursing programs.

“Students will benefit from working with advanced practice nurses in the nurses’ home setting. Our students who commute from rural parishes may find a clinical site close to home! We are excited about the direction this will take us as the school continues to work and serve within this community,” Bailes said.

“This investment will support a community that has come together to make critical strides in improving quality of care,” said Michael Tipton, president of the BCBS Foundation. “The nurses who graduate from this program will provide an estimated additional 15,600 patient-care services in the region.”