Jan. 9, 2024–For the third year in a row, Missouri Western State University has received a state grant to address the growing nursing shortage. The $386,780 grant from the Missouri State Board of Nursing will be used to develop an accelerated program for registered nurses with an associate’s degree to get master’s degrees that will prepare them to teach in Missouri schools of nursing.

“We’re grateful to the State Board of Nursing, Governor Parson and the Missouri General Assembly for recognizing the importance of educating nurses in the state,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, Missouri Western’s president. “Our nursing program does an outstanding job of educating not only the nurses of tomorrow, but the nurse educators of tomorrow as well.”

The program will allow registered nurses with an associate’s degree to quickly attain a Master of Science in Nursing, nurse educator track from Missouri Western. The grant will provide scholarship support for ten students who agree to teach in a Missouri school of nursing for at least three years after completing the accelerated RN to MSN program.

“An often overlooked factor in the nursing shortage is the shortage of faculty that limits capacity at nursing schools across the country,” said Dr. Heather Kendall, professor and chair of the Department of Nursing. “This grant will enable us to prepare more clinical nursing faculty to work in the state of Missouri.”

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a total of 2,166 full-time faculty vacancies were identified in a 2022 survey of 909 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country. Besides the vacancies, schools cited the need to create an additional 128 faculty positions to accommodate student demand. The data show a national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 8.8%.

The program will begin in August, with applications accepted beginning in March. RNs who are interested in learning more can email nursing@missouriwestern.edu

The grant was one of 20 totaling $5 million announced by Gov. Mike Parson last month.

“It is vitally important that we continue to invest in Missouri’s health care workforce to stay competitive nationally, especially for our high demand fields such as nursing,” Gov. Parson said. 

The latest grant follows a 2023 award that supported a pilot program to help licensed practical nurses remain on the job while earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and a 2022 award to allow greater use of Missouri Western’s clinical simulation lab. 

“We were one of just two schools of nursing in the state to get grants in all three years, which I believe reflects the stellar quality of our program, our faculty and our graduates,” said Dr. Laura Reynolds, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “I am very appreciative of Dr. Kendall and all of our nursing faculty and staff for the amazing work that they do.”

The grants are part of the Nursing Education Incentive Program (NEIP).

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit missouriwestern.edu