John Brown University announced a $6 million lead gift for a new nursing education facility and endowment for the college’s new nursing program. The donor wishes to remain anonymous.
The gift is part of approximately $10 million that will be raised to launch the nursing program, including $6 million in construction costs and $4 million to endow operations and facility maintenance.
"We are immeasurably grateful for this gift that will enable JBU to train nurses to serve as critical caregivers and healers," said Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president.
Architectural planning for the estimated 20,000 square-foot nursing facility will start in 2014, with construction starting in 2015. The building will open in fall 2016, ready for the first cohort of nursing majors in JBU's program.
"The regional and global need for highly educated nurses is profound and growing," said Susan Barrett, JBU board member and retired president of Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. "This anonymous gift will enable JBU to use its top-ranked academic knowhow to build a state-of-the-art nursing program."
JBU was approved last month by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing to begin recruiting students into the pre-nursing phase of the program to start fall of 2014. Completing the pre-nursing phase and the nursing program is expected to take, on average, about four years, said Dr. Brian Greuel, chair of the health and natural sciences division at JBU.
"We have been blessed with top notch laboratories and specialized equipment for our science programs, but to launch a nursing program requires another level of resourcing," said Dr. Greuel. Graduates of JBU's nursing program will hold a BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) degree.
"Until now, the top requested major JBU didn't offer was nursing," said Dr. Ed Ericson, vice president of academic affairs.
The nursing shortage is a real problem.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing have reported that a nursing shortage is a potential threat to the U.S. healthcare system.
“The United States is projected to have a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across the country are struggling to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand for nursing care,” notes an AACN report.
Based on workforce projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the AACN estimates that nursing job openings will total 1.2 million by 2020, with 495,500 needed to replace nurses now in the system. Changes in federal healthcare laws increase the need for nurses.
“Though AACN reported a 5.1% enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2011, this increase is not sufficient to meet the projected demand for nursing services. With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, more than 32 million Americans will soon gain access to healthcare services, including those provided by RNs and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs),” said the AACN report.
The AACN also reported than in 2011-2012, U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,587 applicants from nursing programs because of “insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.” The report said that almost two-thirds of nursing schools surveyed said faculty shortages were the reason for curtailing enrollment.