NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University was named one of four recipients awarded Healthcare Occupations Program grants from The Rapides Foundation to help meet the healthcare workforce needs of employers in Central Louisiana.
Northwestern State University received a $719,600 grant in September to increase the number of Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) clinical students admitted to its Alexandria campus each year by initiating a Spring clinical admission for a cohort of 20 BSN students. This enhancement is expected to result in an additional 80 BSN graduates, thereby increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses within The Rapides Foundation service area. Historically, the NSU Alexandria campus only admitted BSN clinical students in the Fall semester.
Funding for the 3.5-year project will support personnel positions and supplies needed for an additional clinical admission cohort.
“Students who become eligible for clinical admission before the Fall semester must currently wait a year to stay on the Alexandria campus or transfer to another NSU campus for clinical admission,” said Dr. Leah Pearce, project director and coordinator of NSU’s Alexandria campus. “This proposal seeks to increase the number of clinical BSN students in Alexandria by admitting BSN students twice per year.”
The grant will support two full-time faculty positions and one full-time administrative facilitator and adjunct faculty as well as office and media supplies, including additional lab supplies needed to support 20 additional students and computers for new project personnel, Pearce said. Pearce collaborated with Cindy McGuire, director of Grants and Planning and assistant professor in the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, in securing the grant.
Grants totaling $1,875,260 were awarded to NSU, Louisiana State University Eunice, Louisiana State University of Alexandria and Central Louisiana Technical Community College.
The multi-year grants were awarded through the Foundation’s Healthcare Occupations Program, which seeks to increase the number of healthcare graduates prepared to meet the basic level of licensure or certification required by employers for initial hire of high-demand healthcare occupations.
“The Healthcare Occupations Program grant is one of the ways the Foundation is addressing the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, which is often cited as one of the main barriers to people receiving healthcare services,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “By funding grants in this area, we hope to increase the number of health professionals who graduate and are then able to provide critical healthcare services within our region.”
The grant supports nonprofit, accredited colleges and universities to add and expand current healthcare program offerings and concentrations to meet the critical workforce needs of local employers, and it specifically addresses shortages in the three occupational fields of nursing, behavioral health and allied health.
The Rapides Foundation first offered the Healthcare Occupations Program Grant funding opportunity in 2016 as a result of its analysis of the healthcare workforce landscape in the region and awarded six grants totaling $2.1 million. After updating its healthcare workforce analysis in 2021, the funding opportunity was opened again and in February 2022 the Foundation’s Board of Trustees awarded seven grants totaling $3.4 million. The four recent grants were awarded in May and September and bring the total amount of grant funding to $7.4 million.
The Healthcare Occupations Program Grant is offered under the Foundation’s Healthcare Access Initiative and is in support of its mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. Through its Healthcare Access Initiative, the Foundation seeks to address the supply and demand gap in the healthcare workforce and builds the capacity of regional postsecondary institutions to meet healthcare workforce needs.
In 2022, NSU has received three Healthcare Occupations Program Grants and a Future of HealthC.A.R.E. (Career, Academic Readiness and Exploration for Students) Program Grant from The Rapides Foundation to address healthcare workforce needs.