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Pathways to Nursing Success project awarded $6.4M – increases number of RNs in West Virginia

The United States Department of Labor announced more than $6.4M in grant funding to increase the number of registered nurses in West Virginia through a consortium of educational partners.

BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College and West Virginia University at Parkersburg established the Pathways to Nursing Success (PNS) program to support rural and marginalized student populations as they pursue a career in nursing. The $6,488,966 grant from the United States Department of Labor will enable 600 West Virginians to achieve a degree and earn a certification as a registered nurse.

Extensive research by the project team shows that veterans, Black students, and men can serve a more prominent role in the nursing field. Focusing on recruitment and comprehensive support for these populations, the program will also help current entry-level licensed practical nurses (LPNs) advance their careers.

Additionally, the program will break barriers to access for students, provide critical support as they move through the program and leverage a network of employer partners in communities where RNs are desperately needed.

“This program will help address critically-low nurse-to-patient ratio in our communities,” said Dr. Casey Sacks, President of BridgeValley.

As part of the initiative, all three colleges will adopt the Accelerating Student Completion: Encouraging New Dreams (ASCEND) support model currently used by West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

ASCEND supports students with advising, career counseling, tutoring, tuition and fee waivers, textbook purchasing and assistance with basic needs. The model creates cohorts of students, building a network of supportive relationships with peers and instructors.

“We know that this support model is very effective at helping students get over critical hurdles in their educational journey – hurdles that might normally stop them in their tracks,” said Dr. Torie Jackson, President at WVU Parkersburg. “It’s a natural fit for our students and will serve as a great foundation of support.”

In addition to expanded student support, the participating institutions will use the project to enhance the overall nursing program experience. From re-evaluating admissions processes to forming a nursing sector strategy group that works with partnering employers, PNS aims to have a comprehensive impact on nursing education in West Virginia.

“We’re working to create built-in support and a robust jobs pipeline. It’s a strategic project that we know will have lasting effects, both on the homegrown nurses we’ll be sending into the workforce and the people they’ll serve,” said Dr. Pamela Alderman, President of Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College.

Interested students can learn more at any of the participating colleges’ nursing programs. Healthcare providers or other organizations interested in partnering with Pathways to Nursing Success should reach out to Kent Wilson at [email protected].