West Virginia University at
WVU Parkersburg Nursing Program receives $60,500 state initiative grant
CONTACT: Dr. Alita Sellers, chairperson of Health Sciences Division, 304-424-8231.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A state development council has awarded $60,500 to the Nursing Program at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
The West Virginia Council for Community and Economic Development announced the awarding of a workforce development initiative grant Monday (Feb. 2) to the college’s Health Science programs. A matching grant, the award means the college has received $121,000 to "grow" its nursing program.
The state grant is designed to impact West Virginia's nursing shortage by increasing the number of students admitted to WVU Parkersburg’s nursing program, college officials said.
"We have been working with the community to develop collaborative initiatives to address the nursing shortage as it affects the Mid-Ohio Valley," said Erik Bitterbaum, president of WVU Parkersburg.
"Receipt of this state funding means we can impact the availability of additional nursing graduates in our region. This will have a positive impact on health care for years to come," he noted.
To focus on the critical health care situation, the college has been involved in developing a partnership with four area hospitals, Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, Marietta Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Selby General Hospital. Each hospital contributed at least $15,000 to assist the college in its efforts to increase the number of high quality nursing graduates entering the workforce.
With the $60,500 pledged by the hospitals, WVU at Parkersburg became eligible to apply for matching funds as part of WV H.B. 3009 legislation. The legislation allows for competitive grants to strengthen the quality of the state’s workforce by linking existing post-secondary education capacity to the needs of business, industry and other employers. College officials view the health care partnership as critical to impacting the area’s nursing shortage.
"The number of qualified applicants for our Nursing Program this year exceeded the number that we could admit," explained Alita Sellers, chairperson of the college’s Health Sciences Division.
Students were turned away, she noted, because of lack of qualified nursing faculty and out-dated laboratory equipment. Funding from the grant will be used to hire additional adjunct clinical faculty, which will allow more students to be accepted into the program.
Thanks to the grant’s funding, WVU Parkersburg will be able to admit two additional clinical groups of 16 students to the program to pursue the two-year associate in applied science degree in nursing.
In addition, the college’s current lab space will be modified to expand learning experiences for students.
"The lab will be equipped with computers and appropriate applications and evaluation software to develop the critical thinking skills essential for planning patient care," she added.
The existing lab was created at the inception of the college’s nursing program in 1969.
"Since that time the role of the associate degree nurse has evolved and the level of thinking skills and responsibility in decision-making has expanded twenty fold, requiring increasingly sophisticated technical knowledge, instruction, and support," explained Dr. Sellers.
Additionally, the college’s Health Sciences Division now includes an RN to BSN nursing program, a surgical technology program, and a Paramedic program. Each requires specialized equipment and campus laboratory provisions.
The lab will be redesigned, renovated and equipped with model hospital bed units. Each unit will be equipped with a hospital bed, bedside stand, over-the-bed table, wall connectors for suction and oxygen, and a manikin. Adjacent to the bed units will be walk-in closets filled with shelves for storage of equipment to support skills practice. This design will allow each student in a clinical group to work alone or with a partner, as dictated by the assignment.
As part of the grant proposal, WVU Parkersburg will coordinate with each of the partnering hospitals to create teaching/learning environments. Students enrolled in the nursing program will rotate through various clinical assignments at the partner hospitals over the course of their degree program. The partner hospitals hope to recruit and retain a significant number of the program graduates.
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