HomeArkansas newsState of Arkansas commits $20 million to nurture future nursing professionals

State of Arkansas commits $20 million to nurture future nursing professionals

Arkansas – Earlier this week, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, along with Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald and Cody Waits, Director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, announced a significant investment of over $20 million in training grants aimed at supporting the nursing profession in Arkansas. Through the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) Program, the Arkansas Office of Skills Development (OSD) has awarded $20.4 million to 19 Arkansas two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Goals of the ALIGN Program

The ALIGN Program is specifically designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. Governor Sanders emphasized the importance of this initiative, stating, “As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus. The 19 2- and 4-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”

Enhancing Healthcare in Arkansas

Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald highlighted the critical role nurses play in the state’s healthcare system. “Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future. Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field,” McDonald said.

Eligibility and Funding Details

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas offering LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. Applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner. The funding, provided through the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021, is intended for various uses including professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeships, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, purchasing equipment, establishing simulation centers, and expanding labs.

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Distribution of ALIGN Funds

The ALIGN Program’s $20.4 million in funding has been distributed among the following institutions:

  • Arkansas State University: $2,598,396
  • ASU – Mountain Home: $625,175
  • Arkansas Tech University: $327,208
  • Baptist Health Foundation: $1,944,608
  • Henderson State University: $761,200
  • Jefferson Hospital Association: $420,800
  • John Brown University: $328,250
  • NorthWest Arkansas Community College: $2,110,901.58
  • Ouachita Baptist University: $487,000
  • Philander Smith University: $396,857.13
  • University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing: $1,198,353
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB): $368,614.26
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM): $2,024,546
  • University of Arkansas – Fort Smith: $2,033,375
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Nursing: $969,200
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: $1,679,566.07
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff: $1,004,000
  • University of Arkansas Rich Mountain: $645,850
  • University of Central Arkansas School of Nursing: $476,100

The total funding amount awarded is $20,400,000.04. All ALIGN award funding must be expended by December 31, 2026.

Future Impact

This significant investment aims to ensure that Arkansas is well-prepared to meet future healthcare demands by developing a robust pipeline of qualified nursing professionals. By enhancing educational opportunities and expanding apprenticeship programs, the ALIGN Program seeks to create a sustainable and skilled nursing workforce that can provide high-quality healthcare across the state.

Nathan Kim

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