UAB School of Nursing gets $1M grant to expand nursing workforce diversity

Grant will help increase opportunities, number of nurses from culturally diverse backgrounds with bachelor’s degrees.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing has received a three-year, $1 million continuation grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the Enrichment Academy for Nursing Success (EANS) project.

nursing_EANS_grant_sThe EANS project is designed to significantly increase the number of bachelor’s-degree prepared nurses by providing education and financial assistance to students from diverse backgrounds including minorities, students from rural areas and first-generation college students to facilitate academic success and degree completion.

Minorities comprise 32 percent of Alabama’s population but only 16.7 percent of the nursing workforce. Alabama’s shortage of minority nurses affect the state’s persistent population health disparities, said Linda Moneyham, Ph.D., senior associate dean for academic affairs in the UAB School of Nursing.

“The populations we care for as nurses are quite culturally diverse, so we need nurses from those same populations to help improve access across the state, as well as deliver culturally competent care,” Moneyham said. “Interest in this program over its first three years has primarily been from African-American students, but we would also like to recruit more Hispanic/Latino students, first-generation college students and students from rural areas.”

Moneyham said the continuation grant will allow the school to expand the existing EANS pre-nursing preparation program which provides support services to current pre-nursing students to help them reach their junior year and full enrollment in the nursing program from four students per year to 10 students per year. The renewal will also allow the school to recruit and enroll 12 nurses with an associate’s degree into the bachelor’s degree completion program, as well as enroll 58 students into the traditional bachelor’s degree program. The goal during this final three-year term of the project will be for 44 students in the program to graduate with their bachelor’s degree.

The EANS project is designed to significantly increase the number of bachelor’s-degree prepared nurses by providing education and financial assistance to students from diverse backgrounds — including minorities, students from rural areas and first-generation college students — to facilitate academic success and degree completion.

The grant will also provide financial assistance and academic support outside of the classroom, including tutoring and social-skills development, dedicated advising and mentoring and academic support workshops on topics such as test taking and study habits.

“The ultimate goal is for all of our students to come into college, progress and graduate,” Moneyham said. “But for many students, academic achievement can be a challenge. Through this program, part of what we are doing is helping students learn skills they may not have been equipped with coming out of high school, giving them every opportunity possible to attain their education goals.”

nursing_EANS_grant2_sIn addition to the assistance for current and incoming students, there will also be high school outreach and recruitment activities, as well as professional development opportunities for current nursing faculty to increase their knowledge of cultural competency and strategies for working with students from diverse backgrounds.

“We are delighted to receive this grant renewal,” said UAB School of Nursing Dean Doreen Harper, Ph.D. “These grant activities are focused on providing increased educational opportunities for bright, capable students who come from minority, rural and first-generation college backgrounds.”

The program may also address Alabama’s health care professional shortage.

“Our hope is that our graduates and faculty will impact the cultural competency of the future nursing workforce, as well as make a positive difference in the shortage of primary health care providers currently facing Alabama,” Harper said.

Rhonda McLain, D.S.N., in the UAB School of Nursing is the project’s director, and Martha Dawson, D.N.P., developed the initial EANS program and consults with the current project team.

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