$1.9M Federal Grant Helps UA College of Nursing Expand, Diversify Nursing Workforce

Jan. 30, 2018

Thanks to the four-year diversity grant, the college will expand its support of students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in nursing in Arizona.

Jan. 30, 2018

TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona College of Nursing has received a four-year, $1.9 million grant to support students from diverse backgrounds, with the goal of increasing diversity in the nursing workforce.

The Health Resources and Services Administration diversity grant (No. D19HP30859-01-00), administered through the HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity program, will fund the Arizona Nursing Inclusive Excellence scholars project, which supports students admitted to the college from disadvantaged backgrounds that are underrepresented in health care and nursing.

The nursing workforce remains predominantly white, with other ethno-racial groups underrepresented in the profession.

"As an institution of higher learning, discovery and service, it is critical that the University of Arizona is a community that accepts and encourages a diversity of thought, heritage and tradition," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "We are incredibly grateful for the enhanced opportunities this grant will enable for students of underserved populations, which will ultimately contribute to better access to health care education and clinical care for all the people of our state."  

Full-time, pre-professional nursing, Bachelor of Science in nursing and doctoral students who are Native American, Hispanic/Latino, first-generation college attendees or from a rural or U.S.-Mexico border community may qualify to become ANIE scholars. As scholars, they gain access to financial support and academic enrichment services, such as mentoring, coaching, individual and group tutoring, professional skills development and peer networking. As part of the ANIE project, college faculty members are designing a holistic admissions process in concert with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

"As a college of nursing at a land-grant university, we have an obligation to create a workforce that is representative of and reflects the communities we serve," says ANIE Project Director Mary Koithan, PhD, CNS-BC, FAAN, associate dean for student support and community engagement at the College of Nursing. "The ANIE program is focused on improving access to nursing educational opportunities by reducing the barriers and improving the success of our Native American, Hispanic/Latino, first-generation college and rural/border students."

In addition to Dr. Koithan, the ANIE project team includes Michelle Kahn-John, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, GNP, ANIE co-director for scholar enrichment; Cheryl Lacasse, PhD, RN, OCN, ANIE co-director for community partner outreach; and Linda Perez, M Admin, RN, ANIE living/learning coach.

ANIE scholars who join the project include:

  • Voyager scholars, who are first-year, first-semester, pre-professional nursing students enrolled at the UA who have access to programs aimed at their successful completion of pre-nursing studies to optimize their admission to the college's two-year professional BSN educational program;
  • Vanguard scholars, who once enrolled in the BSN degree program, have access to academic enrichment and mentoring to ensure their successful BSN completion and readiness to attain RN licensure; and
  • Pinnacle scholars, who are working toward Doctor of Nursing Practice or a PhD in nursing, who have access to programs that work to ensure their success in graduating and finding employment in advanced practice or as faculty members.

In addition, a Career Advance Transition supportive program will be developed to recruit and enroll more registered nurses with community college associate nursing degrees into the UA College of Nursing degree programs. 

“The project seeks to progressively strengthen and transform the college's culture of `inclusive excellence’ while supporting the personal and professional success of underrepresented nursing students,” Dr. Koithan said. “Providing new opportunities for these students not only furthers the college's 60-year mission to build better futures, but ensures the nursing workforce will diversify to reflect the needs of disadvantaged Arizona populations,” she added.

With the nation's third-largest population of American Indians and a Hispanic/Latino population of nearly 31 percent, Arizona is an ideal state in which to implement this program. The ANIE project will work to expand the diversity of the nursing workforce to meet the state's needs, project officials say.

Contact: Jason Gelt, UA College of Nursing, jasongelt@email.arizona.edu, 520-626-2742