WSU receives federal grants to grow nursing workforce

By Alli Benjamin, College of Nursing

WSU-Nursing-Pathways-students-80RICHLAND, Wash. – The Washington State University College of Nursing received three federal grants totaling $1.1 million to reduce health disparities in Washington, increase access to qualified healthcare providers in rural and underserved areas and expand nurse educator preparation.

New funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration builds upon previously documented successes.

WSU Nursing Pathways students.

Nursing Pathways: Community Alliance for Health Workforce Diversity will increase retention, graduation and NCLEX (nationwide nurse licensing exam) pass rates of 115 underserved, diverse BSN and RN-BSN students living in rural areas. Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) supports 26 family nurse practitioners, including U.S. Veteran, Hispanic and Native American/American Indian in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program at WSU. Debbie Nogueras, academic director and associate dean for WSU Tri-Cities nursing programs, is the primary investigator for both grants, which will be completed over one year.

The Nurse Faculty Loan program is being managed by Lori Brown at WSU Spokane and is designed to expand the ability to prepare graduate nurses for careers as nurse educators. Funding of $319,940 will expand the college’s ability to prepare graduates for careers as nurse educators by paying for tuition, fees and books.

* Nursing Pathways builds on two previously funded HRSA workforce development grants focused on recruiting first-generation college-bound students into the health sciences.

“Students from the initial grant indicated that they really needed increased peer support to succeed,” said Cindy Mackay-Neorr, project administrator/manager for the grant. “They wanted mentors and specialists who could help them through difficult nursing courses. We evolved into a small, tight-knit learning community.

“In the last three years, we’ve graduated 50 BSN and RN-BSN students, supported 116 students in those programs and worked with 300-plus high school and pre-nursing students to prepare them for continuing their education,” she said.

The new $349,187 funding award will shift focus to student retention and support as students earn licensing and enter practice.

* The $341,000 AENT grant will encourage graduates to work in rural, medically underserved areas and increase the number of family nurse practitioners in those areas. Five full-time students will receive continued financial support and 21 new part-time students will receive scholarship support and stipends.

“This allows us to begin creating a nurse practitioner workforce that reflects the communities we serve while reducing the debt for these students,” Nogueras said.

“Both grants are a major stepping stone for improving health and healthcare access in central Washington,” she said. “It will take a few years to get these nurses and providers out into the community, but the long term impact will be well worth the wait.”

HRSA is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant numbers are D19HP19023, A10HP30090 and E01HP28794.


Alli Benjamin, WSU College of Nursing communications, 509-324-7340,