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Home > Programs > Arkansas Partnership for Nursing's Future > News Release

Arkansas Partnership for Nursing's Future

News Release

For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2012

Arkansas receives $4.9 million grant to train nurses

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services has received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train more than 1,500 Arkansans to become nurses.

The Department of Labor awarded the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and Arkansas Workforce Investment Board $4,952,848 for the Arkansas Partnership for Nursing's Future project. The project will train at least 1,500 individuals for careers in the nursing profession, which range from Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses to Registered Nurses and beyond. The project will target qualified individuals who are on waiting lists to enter nursing programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families participants, unemployed and dislocated workers, and those currently working in the health care field looking to further their education and credentials, especially those working in long-term care facilities.

In order to ensure success, a partnership among state and private organizations is essential. DWS and the AWIB will partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, Arkansas Hospital Association, Arkansas Health Care Association, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Community Foundation.

"This is another great example of collaboration among stakeholders in Arkansas," said DWS Director Artee Williams. "These partnerships are essential to providing additional job opportunities for Arkansans, especially in a high-demand occupation such as nursing."

Arkansas was one of 43 grantees who received more than $183 million in federal H-1B Technical Skills Training Grants. The overall goal is to reduce H-1B visas for foreign workers by educating and training Americans to fill those jobs. The RN and career pathway to becoming an RN were the focus of Arkansas' grant application.

DWS Labor Market Information indicate that the number of RNs will increase more than 27 percent in Arkansas by 2018. According to the health care industry, more than 1,500 qualified nursing applicants are turned away each year in Arkansas because of limited capacity. The main barriers to increasing the number of nurses include a shortage of nursing faculty and clinical opportunities. To address that, the project will use distance education technology to educate students around the state and develop a preceptor training program that will increase the number of preceptors, allowing clinical opportunities for students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UAMS and the AATYC will be the primary sub-recipients of grant funds to carry out those roles. UAMS will coordinate with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to establish a statewide preceptor training and certification program in an effort to double the number of clinical opportunities available to students. UAMS also will provide distance education classes, recruit students, and coordinate the participation of statewide Bachelor of Science Nursing programs and long-term care facilities.

"Clearly it's going to take a collaborative approach like this one to address the health care workforce shortages in the state," said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. "In the last year I've been heavily involved in working with health care leaders in the state to identify the workforce shortcomings in Arkansas and ways to address them. The nursing profession will play a tremendous role in meeting the needs of Arkansans. We are honored to play an integral part in working as a team toward a solution by using innovative recruitment and training strategies."

The Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges will coordinate the participation of statewide Associate Degree Nursing programs and recruit students.

"Like the rest of the country, Arkansas has a statewide shortage of health care workers," said Dr. Ed Franklin, the executive director of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges. "This partnership will help two-year colleges get more people into the field of nursing, especially for rural communities with the most critical need."

The success of the program relies on the participation of employers as well. The Arkansas Heath Care Association and Arkansas Hospital Association represent employers in the health care industry and are committed to facilitating the hiring of participants who complete the training.

"This is good news for Arkansas, especially when all the signs point toward a growing demand for nursing care in the future," said Paul Cunningham, the executive vice-president of the Arkansas Hospital Association. "The grant will help to ensure that Arkansas is better equipped with a nursing force able to handle that demand over the coming years, especially as growing numbers of the state's baby boom generation turn 65 and begin to seek out health care services more frequently in hospitals, clinics, physicians' offices and other settings."

"On behalf of the Arkansas Health Care Association, we are very excited about the additional funding to the Arkansas Partnership for Nursing's Future Grant," said Executive Director Donna Freel Childress. "As the state trade association representing over 95 percent of long-term care in Arkansas, including both skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, we want to ensure that the quality of care we provide is ongoing. We look forward to continuous improvements to our workforce as nurses serve in a leadership role for the interdisciplinary team, which will help with both care transitions and improved patient care. This additional funding will allow us to work with long-term care operators to continually assess the needs of our state to enhance geriatric quality of care in Arkansas."

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