Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) has been awarded a $500,000-plus grant to help fund expansion of its nursing program.
Lisa Wade, dean of nursing and allied health, said the $532,944 grant comes from the Missouri State Board of Nursing’s Nursing Education Incentive Program (NEIP). The NEIP program was established in 2011 in order to increase the physical and educational capacity of professional nursing programs in Missouri. Funds for the grants come from state appropriations for the board, according to information on the website for the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, which oversees the nursing board.
Wade said the funds will be used to fill faculty vacancies, purchase new simulation equipment and technology, and support expansion of the LPN-to-RN track nursing program, which received contingent approval for expansion from the nursing board in October.
“The demand for our program is great, especially our online program,” Wade said. “In 2022, we had 85 applicants for the 30 seats we had available. This year, we had 65 applicants. With the board’s approval, we can now move forward and increase the total number of students in this track to 60 and introduce biannual admission cycles, allowing for 30 students to be admitted in the spring and another 30 in the fall,” Wade said.
Expansion will provide flexibility with cohorts
The expansion also gives the nursing program the flexibility to adjust the seats of the cohorts and admit up to 20 students in the online section and 10 in the seated section for each cohort, depending on demand, Wade added. “The flexibility of our online program has made it the most desired and requested option among prospective students,” she explained.
Wade said expanding the LPN-to-RN track program would have been difficult, if not impossible, without the funding. “We would have been very limited in what we would have been able to obtain for an expansion. With the money, we can hire personnel and purchase the equipment we need to expand the program for the fall 2024 semester,” she explained.
Representatives from the nursing board will conduct a site visit in February to determine if MSU-WP’s nursing program has everything needed to expand. “If we do, they will grant full approval for the expansion,” Wade said.
This has been an exciting year for the nursing program and the university, Wade said. “I’m excited about the expansion and the potential impact it will make, and I’m proud that we have the support from the state, university and community for this expansion. Ultimately, we want to see students be successful and have more qualified nurses out in the workforce, not only for our community, but statewide,” she said.
The application cycle is currently open for admission to the 2024 fall cohort, but Wade pointed out it will close March 1. For more information about the nursing program or how to apply, visit WP.MissouriState.edu/Nursing.