Viterbo University was awarded a $1.64 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Nursing Workforce Diversity Program.
The four-year grant is being used to support Viterbo’s Nurses for Underserved Rural Students Seeking Educational Success (NURSES) program. This unique initiative is designed to address the rural nursing workforce shortage and improve rural health outcomes through an increase in the number and preparedness of nurses from, and willing to serve, rural and disadvantaged populations.
Viterbo is collaborating with rural school districts and an area health education center to educate, inspire, recruit, and graduate nurses with a desire to serve educationally, economically, and culturally/racially diverse populations residing in rural areas.
“We are taking ambassadors—current junior nursing students—out to the local schools that meet the criteria of the grant,” said Kathy Warner, the Viterbo nursing faculty member who is serving as the grant coordinator. “They are teaching in the classroom, speaking about nursing school and opportunities in the profession, and showing the middle and high school kids that they can make a nursing career a reality. The ambassadors are all from small, rural high schools similar to the schools we visit.”
The first cohort of six student grant recipients began at Viterbo this past fall.
“The grant is working to bring students from rural areas, and from underrepresented populations, into the nursing profession and increase the numbers going back to those same areas to serve their communities,” Warner said. “We have the opportunity to educate and excite high school kids about nursing, many of whom may not have considered this as a possibility.”
Viterbo University was one of 29 colleges and universities in the nation to receive the grant.