NATCHITOCHES – Willis-Knighton Health System has committed $30,000 per year to Northwestern State University as a healthcare partner for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation grant to address the nursing shortage in Louisiana. In September, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation announced a $1.8 million multi-year grant that will help fill critical roles in northwest and central Louisiana’s shrinking healthcare workforce. Willis-Knighton Health System is one of several regional healthcare providers partnering with NSU to provide financial resources and space in their facilities to use as clinical sites.
Willis-Knighton Health System has been a partner to NSU for more than two decades and previously established 10 endowed professorships totaling $1 million with a state match. The earnings from these professorships provide annual support for faculty. On an annual basis, Willis-Knighton Health System is currently providing $848,000 for nursing faculty support, $30,000 for the Willis-Knighton/College of Nursing and School of Allied Health (CONSAH) Support Fund and $30,000 for the Willis-Knighton Endowed Scholarship. They are also providing stipends for NSU students seeking employment after graduation, bringing their annual contributions to over $1 million annually.
Partnering with NSU on the grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation will allow NSU to expand programs for paramedics, military medics and people with undergraduate science degrees to transition into high-paying nursing jobs. As many as 30 percent of Louisiana’s nurses are projected to leave the profession over the next 10 years due to retirements, burnout and other reasons. Fewer nurses means that those still working are stretched thin, which can affect the quality of healthcare patients receive. To get ahead of the curve, NSU and nearly a dozen other healthcare organizations in the region are working together to add 300 nurses to the workforce in the next four years, and more than 1,000 nurses by 2032.
WK currently provides a state-of-the-art virtual simulation hospital that is used by nurse anesthesia students as well as nursing and allied health clinical students. Willis-Knighton also serves as a partner for the student health services by providing physician support and low-cost physician visits to nursing and allied health students when needed.
Information on Northwestern State University nursing programs can be found at https://www.nsula.edu/nursing/.