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IHC grants aim to boost nursing education

Shortage looms: The funding would help hire more teachers, and assist part-time students

March 25, 2005

Salt Lake Tribune
By Linda Fantin

There is a three-year delay to get into Salt Lake Community College's nursing program, but for students such as 26-year-old Amanda Webb, the wait is the easy part.

Webb is a working mom whose life doesn't conform to a 12-credit-hour schedule. Lucky for her, SLCC is launching a part-time option that will allow Webb and about 65 other students like her to get nursing degrees by taking night classes and getting clinical experience on the weekends.

The five-year program is made possible by a $400,000 grant from Intermountain Health Care, which also is giving $600,000 to boost nursing education at Westminster College. IHC is making similar donations to the College of Eastern Utah, Dixie State College, Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University, Weber State University and Utah Valley State College.

The gifts, announced Thursday, should help Utah avoid the kind of nursing shortage other states are experiencing, said Nancy Nowak, IHC's chief nursing officer. Some predictions suggest that by 2020, the nation will have 20 percent fewer nurses than it needs.
In Utah the main concern isn't so much a lack of nurses as a need for nursing educators. That's why Westminster plans to use its grant to hire two new faculty members and to reinstate a bachelor's program for registered nurses. The school also will purchase two high-tech human simulators.

The grants will allow Utah colleges and universities to graduate 600 more nursing students in the next five years. Webb is thrilled at the chance to be one of them.
" This is the only way I am going to be able to get through school," the West Jordan woman said. "So I'm extremely grateful."