Loyola Expands Nurse Training in Bayou Region to Bridge Healthcare Shortage
Funding from Blue Cross Foundation will help train 275 nurses, nurse practitioners
(New Orleans – August 5, 2020) – Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Nursing and Health is partnering with regional healthcare providers to expand nursing training in southwest Louisiana. The expansion is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and will enable more than 275 students to complete the hands-on training necessary to graduate.
Efforts will focus on Louisiana Parishes that have been designated as a Health Provider Shortage Area (HPSA) and where Loyola online nursing students are based, including Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Calcasieu Parishes.
All Loyola nursing students must fulfill practicum requirements, which demand hand-on experiential learning and supervised nursing practice in a healthcare setting. It can be a challenge to find enough preceptors across the state to help supervise in rural or local settings across Louisiana. Students in Loyola’s Family Nurse Practitioner nursing programs are required to complete 180 hours of practicum training to earn their degrees. In order to complete this requirement, students must find a preceptor who will act as a mentor for their practicum.
The grant from the Blue Cross Foundation will enable Loyola to develop strong community partnerships with healthcare systems and clinics from across the state of Louisiana to increase the number of qualified preceptors available to work with nursing students. Increasing the capacity of available preceptors will in turn, work to increase the number of nurse practitioners in Louisiana.
“Loyola’s College of Nursing and Health understands our critical role in addressing the healthcare provider shortage in Louisiana,” said Dean Laurie Anne Ferguson. “Our online nursing programs work with students from across the state who return to their communities as nurse practitioners. Through this collective impact grant, we will be able to further act on strategies that support our students to be prepared to make an impact on the healthcare system.”
“The Blue Cross Foundation is working with partners like Loyola to make long-term changes in the trends of Louisiana’s overall health, including issues in healthcare infrastructure,” said Michael Tipton, president of the Foundation. “Local universities and healthcare providers and uniquely situated to address these shortfalls in healthcare workers. We have seen similar models work in other places, and are hopeful that this partnership will expand access to high-quality care across southwest Louisiana.”
Currently, Loyola New Orleans’ College of Nursing and Health has 275 students pursuing the following degree programs: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Of these, one hundred eighty-six students are studying to be Family Nurse Practitioners providing primary care. These online students are primarily based in Parishes throughout Louisiana.
With grant funding, Loyola’s College of Nursing and Health will work to establish partnerships with health clinics, providers, and health systems in both rural and urban communities that currently experience a shortage of healthcare providers.
Funding from the BCBS Foundation will also enable Loyola to offer incentives to registered nurses to participate in this program in a manner similar to that of many federal funding programs aiming to help organizations, nonprofits and other healthcare providers increase the number of nurses with advanced degrees as primary nurse practitioners.
Grant funding will also provide the Loyola New Orleans College of Nursing and Health with the resources to hire dedicated personnel to develop relationships with healthcare organizations to provide preceptors students may work with and to develop a database of preceptors throughout Louisiana in a variety of specialties. This database will be available for students to access to find the best opportunity to receive training in their field. Grant funding will also provide incentives for health clinics to partner with Loyola students and act as preceptors.