LACEY, Wash. — Saint Martin’s nursing program has been awarded a $2.22 million four-year Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The purpose of grant is to increase and assist the number of nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds to become baccalaureate-prepared (Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)) registered nurses (RNs), by providing Nursing Workforce Diversity-funded mentoring, as well as financial and academic support to 204 BSN and RN to BSN students enrolled at Saint Martin’s University over the four years of the grant, 2021-2025.
The grant, authored by Director of Nursing Teri Woo, Ph.D., was one of only 26 HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity grants awarded nationwide. “The COVID pandemic significantly deepened the nursing shortage and our BSN graduates are needed to address the health of the community,” shares Dr. Woo. “This grant will allow us to expand financial and academic support to our nursing students to ensure their successful completion of the BSN program.”
The grant aims to:
- Increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds who are admitted to and successfully complete the Saint Martin’s BSN program to become RNs;
- Provide financial support to students from diverse backgrounds to decrease the financial burden of earning their BSN;
- Recruit and retain faculty from diverse backgrounds; and
- Increase the number of students who work with Medically Underserved Populations (MUP) or Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) during their BSN program.
The grant will benefit all nursing students by enabling the hiring of a nursing advisor, mentors and tutors who will support students to successfully complete the BSN program. Funds will also be used to provide scholarships for 20 traditional BSN and 6 RN to BSN students per year who meet the criteria for the funding which include Hispanic/Latinx, African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hawaiian, economically disadvantaged, or economically disadvantaged based on HRSA guidelines.
The project has the capacity to improve on and strengthen the education of BSN-prepared RNs caring for underserved populations and increase the number of diverse BSN graduates who practice in underserved areas, thereby improving access to care and decreasing health disparities.
Saint Martin’s established a RN to BSN program in 2012 in response to the goal to increase the number of BSN prepared RNs in Washington state, and graduated its first BSN students in 2013. The traditional BSN program entered its first students in fall 2019 and the first traditional BSN students are expected to graduate in May 2022. The university is in the final approval stages to add an LPN to BSN track to the program offerings.
This is the second HRSA grant that the university has been awarded. In 2019, Saint Martin’s University received a $1.15 million grant to fund an opioid workforce expansion. Shares Dr. Jeff Crane, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “The two grants held and managed by our faculty in social work and nursing demonstrate Saint Martin's commitment to supporting students interested in pursuing careers in helping professions and engagement in the community by addressing some of society’s most pressing and challenging problems.”
Saint Martin’s University is an independent coeducational university, with undergraduate and graduate offerings, located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and seven certificate programs spanning the arts and sciences, business, counseling, education, engineering, nursing and leadership. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.