Nursing education at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith received a $50,000 boost on Thursday (Sept. 26) when Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel presented UAFS administrators with a check in a brief ceremony held in the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center.
UAFS Chancellor Paul Beran said the $50,000 would be used to purchase equipment for the simulation lab for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
“We believe in meeting the nursing employment needs of our region, and our BSN program is one way to do that,” Beran said in a statement. “Our mission states that, as a premiere regional university, we will connect education with careers. We have eliminated our two-year associate degree nursing program to place our assets and strength behind the bachelor’s degree program. Having additional funds to supplement equipment needs — specifically for the simulation lab — will allow us to serve our students and our region.”
Beran also said area legislators were instrumental in bringing McDaniel’s attention to UAFS.
“We appreciate the support of Sen. Gary Stubblefield and Sen. Bryan King and their help in securing these funds,” said Beran.
McDaniel distributed the $50,000 from settlement money allocated to the state in a settlement with GlaxoSmithKline to resolve allegations that the pharmaceutical manufacturer unlawfully promoted its diabetes drug, Avandia. Arkansas’s portion of the settlement was $1,557,495.30.
“There is no better way, no better place, to distribute some of those funds than right here at UA Fort Smith,” said McDaniel. “With great privilege … we present a check to you for $50,000. I trust you will put it to good use for your students.”
Dr. Ray Wallace, provost and senior vice chancellor, accepted the check from McDaniel on behalf of Beran, who was out of town. Wallace said the $50,000, combined with other recent gifts to the University, not only adds significantly to laboratory training for nursing students, but will provide an overall effect of helping alleviate the nursing shortage in the region.
“The nursing shortage is very real, locally, statewide, regionally and nationally,” said Wallace. “Each effort we make in educating nurses will aid with that shortage.”
Wallace also added that the increased capability provided by this simulation lab will enhance the ability of our nursing graduates as they enter the workforce.
UAFS has 650 majors in the BSN program as of this fall. The University first offered a RN-BSN completion program, accepting the first class of students in 2003. The RN-BSN completion program, which received initial national accreditation in 2004, allows those who are already registered nurses to complete a four-year degree. The traditional BSN four-year degree program began in 2008.