CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly $23 million in grant funding has been awarded to 26 nursing education programs at colleges, universities, schools of nursing and career technical education centers across West Virginia.
The University of Charleston is part of that funding and is set to receive $964,850. UC President Marty Roth told MetroNews Monday the investment is expected to support up to 20 new nursing students at UC’s Charleston and Beckley campuses.
The awards will support up to 600 new nursing students in total statewide who are part of the West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program.
The program was first announced by Gov. Jim Justice in Dec. 2021 in hopes of addressing the state’s nursing shortage by training and retaining nurses in the Mountain State.
With the funding, UC plans to expand its current Associate Degree in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. The money will be used, in part, to host high school boot camps to generate awareness and excitement in joining the nursing profession and provide students with new virtual reality technology to enhance their clinical skills.
“We’ll be bringing them to campus, giving them an opportunity to meet with our nursing faculty, take some classes and most importantly, utilize some state-of-the-art simulation equipment to really excite them about the opportunities there are in the nursing profession,” Roth said.
Overall, UC will be able to attract, enroll and better prepare more students to enter the nursing profession.
Gov. Justice said during Monday’s coronavirus media briefing there is a critical need to recruit and retain nurses in the state at this time.
“There’s no question about that, but in addition to that, if you can spin this thing around to where it’s an economic driver for West Virginia at the same time, it’s a win-win,” he said.
Roth said UC has seen the challenges in the nursing field over the last few years.
“One of the biggest challenges today if finding enough qualified nurses. In fact, most of the hospitals have unused hospital beds not because there’s a lack of patients or demand for their services, but simply they don’t have enough staffing,” he said.
Another award recipient is the West Virginia University School of Nursing. The school will receive $2 million and will use that to expand their existing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at multiple campuses, including Morgantown, Beckley, Bridgeport and Keyser. Two separate $1 million awards will be provided.
Admission will be expanded at WVU’s newest campus in Bridgeport through a partnership with United Hospital Center. The first cohort of 24 will be admitted this September.
WVU School of Nursing Dean Tara Hulsey said they wouldn’t be able to follow through without the funding from the governor’s office.
“We’ve had budget cuts because of COVID and we didn’t have the resources to really focus on what we really need to,” Hulsey said. “I think COVID kind of gave folks a bad taste in what nursing is and it’s not like that. Nursing is a wonderful profession and is highly rewarding.”
State Heath Department Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad said during Monday’s coronavirus media briefing nurses are a critical need to the hospitals.
“They’re there 24 hours a day. Without them, the hospitals really couldn’t run, so investing in getting more nurses into West Virginia with education, recruitment and retention has always been a need,” Amjad said.
The investment is also expected to support 20 new nursing students at the WVU Beckley campus.
The nursing program expansion awards are administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System.
The nursing education programs receiving funding through this announcement are:
- Alderson Broaddus University
- Blue Ridge Community & Technical College
- Bluefield State College
- Davis & Elkins College
- Fairmont State University
- New River Community & Technical College
- Shepherd University
- Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College
- St. Mary’s School of Nursing
- University of Charleston
- West Liberty University
- West Virginia Junior College
- West Virginia Northern Community College
- West Virginia State University
- West Virginia University
- West Virginia University Institute of Technology
- West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- Wheeling University
- Boone Career and Technical Center
- John D. Rockefeller Career Center
- Med Care Training Center
- Mingo Extended Learning Center
- New River Community & Technical College
- BridgeValley Community & Technical College
- Concord University
- Marshall University & Glenville State University joint program