Nursing school to receive grant

$435,900 contingent on graduation rate increase over next two-year period

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

The School of Nursing signed a contract Tuesday to receive a $435,900 grant to increase its graduation rate.

The grant is an agreement between the Dallas/Fort Worth Hospital Council and the School of Nursing. The council gave the grant to the school with the condition that it must graduate, over a two-year period, 80 additional nursing students.

Nursing Dean Elizabeth Poster said a recent shortage of nurses has been a main concern for the school and the council.

"There has been, over the last couple of years, a 5.5 percent decrease in enrollment in baccalaureate programs (in nursing) across the country, " she said.

The nurses are in such great demand, she said, that companies are even offering extra benefits in employment classified advertising.

"If you look in the paper on Sunday, because of the shortage, you'll see signing bonuses for nurses of more than $4,000," she said.

Poster and council members will determine how the school will use the funds, she said.

John Gavras, the council's president, said the goals of the grant are to increase the number of qualified students and faculty, to study the educational components of the current undergraduate programs and to increase the number of sites where students receive practical training. Other goals include encouraging high school and middle school students to seek nursing careers and mentoring students admitted to schools of nursing.

He said one of the main reasons the university was chosen for the grant is that the school could begin accomplishing goals immediately, and that it is flexible.

"We thought if we could come out with a good agreement with UTA then we could use that agreement as a bench mark for other schools," he said. "They were willing to look at new ways to approach a partnership with providers of care and academia of care."

University President Robert Witt said that the grant is important because it will allow the school of nursing to add a significant number of nurses to hospitals in the community.

"The fact that a consortium of Metroplex hospitals was prepared to invest in excess of $400,000 in the UT Arlington School of Nursing is a strong endorsement of the outstanding quality of our School of Nursing," he said.

Poster said the grant and the school's recent recommendation for re-accreditation will make the school more attractive to potential students.

"The grant means the (medical) community has confidence in our school and they're willing to invest in it," she said. "They believe they're getting something that has great value."

Sally Claunch

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