Truman secured more than $500,000 through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund that will soon lead to an increase in the number of nursing students and ultimately help the state’s workforce.
A project of Missouri’s Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, GEER funds were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are designed to provide educational opportunities for students, drive progress toward economic recovery and meet specific workforce needs.
“We receive more student applicants for nursing than we have capacity to enroll, so this addresses some of the issues preventing increased admission,” said Brenda Wheeler, Nursing Department chair and associate professor of nursing. “Also, the nursing profession continues to have high demand in the job market.”
Impacts from GEER have already been seen with the addition of two temporary nursing faculty members. A tenure-track position is being advertised as well. New faculty members will enable the department to restructure its clinical offering, allowing for more students to participate. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students will have classes on opposite days, with clinical offerings taking place on the alternate days.
“We anticipate that we can increase our student enrollment by using a varied clinical schedule. While this will allow for increased use of our clinical sites, the redesign will require additional faculty,” Wheeler said. “The first cohort in the redesigned ABSN program will begin in summer 2022.”
While the nursing program typically enrolls about 220 students, it should be able to accommodate an additional 20 students per year once the new structure is fully in place. The ABSN program is 15 months in length, so once the program gets started, there will be an overlap of students beginning and completing the program each summer.
Another key benefit of the GEER funding will be the addition of cutting-edge technology. Among the new equipment the University has purchased with GEER funding is a high-tech geriatric simulator.
“We did not have a geriatric simulator with the capabilities this new simulator provides,” Wheeler said. “The simulator offers the opportunity for a much more realistic clinical exposure to the geriatric clientele.”
Other equipment slated to be purchased with GEER funding includes three point-of-care computer medication carts, which will enable students to simulate safe medication administration at the bedside. Additionally, bedside workstations on wheels with new laptop computers will allow students some opportunities for patient electronic bedside charting.
Capital renovations were also included as part of Truman’s grant. Portions of the Pershing Building will be converted into learning spaces for nursing, allowing the program to accommodate more students.
Truman was able to secure these competitively awarded GEER funds thanks to the collaboration of the School of Health Sciences and Education, the Nursing Department, the Business Office and the Provost’s Office.