Press Release: Health Centers to Address RN Shortage, 9/17/09

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News Brief - 9/17/09

Health Centers and Western Governors University Partner to Address RN Shortage

National Association of Community Health Centers to Support Clinical Training for WGU’s New Nursing Prelicensure Program

Salt Lake City, Utah — The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and Western Governors University, www.wgu.edu, will partner to provide clinical training opportunities as part of WGU’s new competency-based bachelor’s degree program leading to initial RN licensure. The program, which began in California last July and will launch in Texas next month, combines WGU’s online, competency-based academic approach with intensive clinical simulations and clinical practice supervised by onsite clinical coaches serving as WGU adjunct faculty.

Community Health Centers across the U.S. provide primary care services to 20 million people in America. Like hospitals and other healthcare providers, these centers must address the growing shortage of registered nurses. According to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, there will be more than 1.2 vacant nursing positions by 2014. In addition, nursing schools turn away tens of thousands of applicants each year—there is an increasing shortage of nurse educators as well as clinical training opportunities.

To develop its new prelicensure degree program, WGU has collaborated with national and state workforce agencies, healthcare foundations, and major hospitals and healthcare providers. Accredited and approved by the California and Texas Boards of Nursing, the program is designed to be the first national, online, competency-based bachelor’s degree program in nursing (prelicensure).

“WGU is committed to improving patient care by making quality nursing education accessible and affordable,” said Jan Jones-Schenk, Director of the National Prelicensure Program. “In addition to this new program, WGU’s College of Health Professions offers master’s degrees in nursing leadership and education as well as a bachelor’s degree program for licensed RNs. We look forward to working with the NACHC to provide new training opportunities for nurses and prospective nurses.”

“NACHC is proud to be a partner in this effort with WGU, which could not come at a more critical time,” said Tom Curtin, Chief Medical Officer at NACHC. “The current supply of primary care professionals is already being outpaced by rising demand. The future of primary care depends on programs like these that foster the workforce pipeline in new and innovative ways.”

WGU’s College of Health Professions offers a unique academic approach specifically designed for working nurses. Rather than attending traditional classes and earning credit hours, students are required to demonstrate their knowledge and competency by writing papers, completing assignments, and taking exams. Degree requirements have been developed in collaboration with the healthcare industry to ensure that nursing graduates are skilled in patient care, nurse education, and nurse leadership, and WGU’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Each student is assigned a mentor, who acts as coach and guide throughout the degree program. WGU’s terms are six months in length and can start the first of any month. Students work with their mentors to develop an academic schedule that fits their lives and schedules. For more information, go to www.wgu.edu/healthcenters or call 1-866-225-5948 (866-CALL-WGU).

About the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
Founded in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance and expand access to quality, community-responsive health care for America’s medically underserved and uninsured. NACHC represents the nation’s network of more than 1,250 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which serve 20 million people through 7,500 sites located in all of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Learn more about NACHC at www.nachc.com.