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January 2008

Release Date: January 24, 2008

ASU Wins State Grant for New Nursing Program

Angelo State University’s Nursing Department has been awarded a $1.27 million grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to fund a three-year pilot program aimed at increasing the number of registered nurses working at four area hospitals.

The grant monies are being awarded through the THECB’s Nursing Innovation Grant Program (NIGP) for Hospital Partnerships and recipients were announced today at a THECB meeting in Austin. ASU was one of only two schools awarded a NIGP Hospital Partnership grant this year from 16 statewide applicants.

In partnership with four area hospitals, the ASU Nursing Department will launch a new program this summer that will reduce the costs and time commitments for licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to become registered nurses (RNs). The partner hospitals are Shannon Medical Center, San Angelo Community Medical Center, Brownwood Regional Medical Center and Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring.

The new program will admit LVNs from the partner hospitals and shorten their transition time to RN status from a full academic year to one short and one long semester. The didactic, or lecture, portion of the program will be completely online and the students will conduct the clinical practice component at their home hospitals under the supervision of in-house RN preceptors. Each student will also be supplied with a laptop computer and one paid study day per week to complete the online classes.

The partner hospitals will pay tuition and fees for these nursing students at an estimated total cost of about $860,000 over the three-year pilot period. The ASU grant money will be used to purchase the laptop computers, pay program directors salaries, upgrade the university’s Blackboard Academic Suite online course management system and help defray the hospitals’ costs for the students’ paid study days.

“Realizing that the traditional structure of nursing education is not producing enough new RNs to meet the needs of the aging population in Texas, the THECB challenged us (nursing programs) to develop creative and innovative methods to help alleviate the nursing shortage,” said Dr. Leslie Mayrand, head of the ASU Nursing Department. “We are fortunate to have hospital partners with such a strong commitment to innovation in nursing education.”

With Texas continuing to face a drastic shortage of RNs, the new program is projected to graduate 140 additional RNs over the grant period. It also opens a new avenue for LVNs to continue their educations while working full-time at their home hospitals. State estimates show that it costs a hospital approximately $40,000 to recruit, hire and orient a new RN. Under ASU’s new program, the new RN graduates will be already oriented to their facilities, thus reducing the hospitals’ costs significantly.

For more information, contact Linda Ross in the ASU Nursing Department at 942-2060, Ext. 259.