Wyoming Community Foundation Receives Grant Funding to Address Nursing Shortage

August 15, 2008

The Wyoming Community Foundation (WCF), in partnership with major nursing organizations around the state, including the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences and Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, has received a two-year grant to help fund the launch of the Nursing Workforce Project of Wyoming.

The project will create a state nursing workforce center to act as a clearinghouse and coordinator of statewide efforts to strengthen and improve nursing. One of the center's first orders will be to select, support and evaluate five pilot programs to identify Wyoming's nursing workforce issues. The grant is for $221,510.

"This significant grant will kickstart Wyoming to address our nursing shortage," says Carol Macnee, director of research for the Nightingale Center for Nursing Scholarship at the UW nursing school. "It's a formidable road ahead, but community collaboration is key to providing local solutions to this national problem. At stake are nothing less than patient care and safety, healthcare costs and patient health."

The Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, which works to promote excellence in professional nursing for diverse populations through education, scholarship, outreach and service, has emerged as a leader in the state's quest to build its nursing workforce.

In 2005, the UW Board of Trustees approved an Accelerated Nursing Degree program, known as BRAND (Bachelors Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree), to address the state's nursing shortage. The program launched in June 2006 and has graduated 35 students in its first two years.

The WCF was chosen as one of 18 nationwide recipients for funding from the Partners Investing in Nursing's Future (PIN), a national initiative to help close the gap in the nursing workforce.

WCF President George Gault says three key factors have combined to push the state's nursing needs to a critical point.

"First, the state is aging even faster than the rest of the nation, which means that the need for new approaches to nursing in long-term care facilities must be addressed creatively," Gault says. "Secondly, because Wyoming is a frontier state, it simply costs more to deliver medical care, plus Wyoming continues to lose medical staff and dollars to neighboring states with larger populations and more healthcare capacity. Third, while the state's overall economy is robust due to the energy boom, we lack the underlying healthcare infrastructure that would allow for an adequate and cost-effective delivery system."

The mission of the WCF is to connect people who care with causes that matter to build a better Wyoming. For more information, visit the WCF Web site at www.wycf.org.

Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, PIN works to energize local foundations across the United States to act as catalysts and develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. For more information on PIN, go to the Web site at www.partnersinnursing.org.

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