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Nursing

Grant program to boost nursing education in Wyoming

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The University of Wyoming's nursing school received a $150,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for innovation in nursing education.

The Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships announced its continued participation in the Future of Nursing State Implementation program last week. The nationwide program is providing more than $7.65 million to state nursing education coalitions in 18 states.

In Wyoming, the grant will be used to support the development of a modernized nursing curriculum at the University of Wyoming and the state's community colleges.

"We want the best prepared workforce for Wyoming health care," said Matt Sholty, project coordinator at the University of Wyoming. "We want to be sure that nurses are prepared to meet Wyoming needs not just now, but also 10 years from now."

Sholty said the new curriculum is better adapted to the changing health care landscape and will be tailored further to Wyoming's needs.

The program is a joint effort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP. It aims to implement the Institute of Medicine's recommendations on the future of nursing in college curriculum nationwide.

Mary Burman, dean of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming, said the center will focus on implementing a shared state curriculum that eases the transition from associate degree programs to bachelor's degree programs.

"The job market for nurses is changing significantly," Burman said. "Several hospitals in Wyoming now are recruiting nurses with an associate’s degree, but those nurses have to be in a bachelor’s program within a year."

Burman said the program aims to provide conveniently located bachelor's degree programs for all Wyoming nurses.

"This funding will help address some needs we don’t know yet," Sholty said. "Every college has different needs, and we don’t know specifically what those are yet."

Susan B. Hassmiler, the foundation's senior adviser for nursing, said the grant program has proven successful in better educating the nation's nurses.

“We are immensely proud of the work our action coalitions are doing to transform nursing education and practice, support nurse leadership and diversify the nursing workforce," she said.

Casper College, Wyoming Medical Center, the Wyoming Nurses Association, the University of Wyoming and the state's other community colleges are among the organizations providing matching grant funds for the program.

Wyoming is one of 18 states, including Colorado, Idaho and Nebraska, to receive a grant renewal.

Reach general assignment reporter Trevor Graff at 307-266-0639 or Trevor.Graff@trib.com. Follow him on Twitter @TrevGraff.

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