Gov. Sanders, Commerce Department distribute $20 million for state’s nursing pipeline

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 642 views 

More than $20 million in training grants were awarded to 19 two-year and four-year Arkansas schools to expand the state’s nursing profession.

Gov. Sarah Sanders, Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald and Cody Waits, Director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, announced the $20.4 million funding for the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses, or ALIGN, grants on Monday (May 13).

“As Governor, one of my biggest priorities is preparing young Arkansans for the careers of the future. Healthcare and nursing is one of our primary areas of focus,” said Gov. Sanders. “The 19 two- and four-year colleges and universities receiving grants today train some of the best nurses in America. Each of them will help us build Arkansas’ next generation of healthcare professionals.”

The ALIGN Program is designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs, and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention. Funding for the ALIGN grants is through President Joe Biden’s America Rescue Plan Act of 2021. No member of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation voted for the measure.

Public and private post-secondary educational institutions in Arkansas providing LPN, RN, and BSN degrees were eligible to apply for the ALIGN grant funding. All applicants were required to provide a healthcare partner contribution with a two-to-one match by the state for each dollar contributed by the healthcare partner.

“Nurses play a critical role in delivering quality healthcare in our state. It is essential that we have qualified nursing professionals to meet Arkansans’ healthcare needs today and in the future,” said McDonald. “Increasing educational opportunities and apprenticeships is vital for developing the nursing pipeline in Arkansas, and the ALIGN Program will provide funding to support the growth of our state’s nursing field.”

Eligible funding usage includes professional upskilling, expanding nursing apprenticeship, increasing nurse educator recruitment and retention, expanding clinical rotations, increasing nursing program capacity, tuition reimbursement, equipment purchasing, stimulation centers, and expansion of labs.

The schools and amounts awarded are as follows:

Arkansas State University

ASU – Mountain Home

Arkansas Tech University

Baptist Health Foundation

Henderson State University

Jefferson Hospital Association

John Brown University

NorthWest Arkansas Community College

Ouachita Baptist University

Philander Smith University

University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB)

University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM)

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Nursing

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain

University of Central Arkansas School of Nursing