Emergency Funds for Training Nurses
To increase UAA’s capacity to train registered nurses, its College of Health has been awarded $2.1 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds.
Hiring In-Demand Instructors
Governor Mike Dunleavy says the grant will help UAA attract qualified instructors and keep faculty at the school, allowing the UAA College of Health to enroll more nursing students who will be qualified to serve communities throughout Alaska.
“Alaska’s health care system depends on qualified, highly trained nurses providing skilled and compassionate care each and every day, and that requires the highest caliber instructors we can find,” Dunleavy says, noting that hiring in the health education field is very competitive.
The grant is paid for by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, a component of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. However, Dunleavy says Alaska was expecting a nursing shortage even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant includes $875,000 for hiring bonuses and relocation allowances for up to twenty-three new faculty members or current faculty relocating to areas of high need. The grant also includes $900,000 for loan repayment of up to fifteen new faculty members and ten current faculty members. Another $125,000 will be used for tuition assistance for up to five bachelor’s-prepared clinical instructors to receive a master’s degree required by the Board of Nursing to qualify for a full faculty appointment. The grant also includes $200,000 to hire a search firm with nursing faculty recruitment experience to facilitate the searches.
“Thank you to Governor Dunleavy for recognizing the critically important role that UAA plays in educating health and behavioral health professionals for Alaska,” says UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. “This investment in recruitment and retention packages will provide a mechanism to attract and retain qualified faculty in these essential fields in Alaska now and for the future.”
The UAA College of Health implemented another measure to alleviate Alaska’s nursing shortage during the first months of the pandemic in 2020, by allowing students in the final semester before graduation to complete courses on an expedited timeline. Up to seventy-two new nurses were able to join the workforce sooner than expected.