Nursing Receives Grant from Health Resources & Services Administration

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Tommie L. Norris, DNS, RN, associate professor of Nursing and director of the Clinical Nurse Leader Program at UTHSC, has received a grant totaling $814,100 from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Tommie L. Norris, DNS, RN, associate professor of Nursing and director of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Nursing, has received a grant totaling $814,100 from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The award will be used to fund her project entitled “Increasing Nursing Education Opportunities for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds.” The award will be distributed over a three-year period.

Although the College of Nursing has a history of educating diverse students, this grant will provide resources to improve recruitment and retention. The need for an increased workforce and for more diversity in nursing is supported by state and national data that confirms a diversity gap in Tennessee and the nation. Funding will be used to recruit individuals from educationally or economically-disadvantaged backgrounds, which includes racial and ethnic minorities, to meet the national goal to improve health care education access.

“More nurses, a more diverse nursing workforce, and diversity training are needed to change the culture of healthcare,” said Dr. Norris. “This project will provide resources to increase diversity in nursing by increasing the number of under-represented minority applicants and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who gain access to nursing programs and who successfully graduate and become active healthcare providers”.

To recruit disadvantaged students and increase the proportion of minorities in nursing, the grant will provide resources to implement pre-entry programs and support an ongoing retention program for the master’s entry (pre-licensure) program. Academic, social, and financial support services will be available for candidates in both programs. Pre-entry activities include preparation for pre-entrance exams, financial workshops, mentoring, and sessions on improving academic skills. Retention efforts include social support services, tutoring, financial aid and scholarship advisement, leadership training and sessions on innovative approaches to preparing for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses.

UTHSC nursing education opportunities help to maintain a pipeline of qualified, diverse candidates for the nursing profession. The pre-entry cohort will help to overcome barriers common to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus improving their chances for success upon enrolling in a nursing program.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA, visit www.hrsa.gov.