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Murray State’s nursing program receives $1.5 million grant

Murray State University

Murray State University recently received a $500,000 federal grant — with the potential for up to $1.5 million over the next few years — to develop a program in hopes to help alleviate the nationwide nursing shortage.

The Health Resource and Service Administration Grant will be used for technology upgrades, student recruitment efforts and future program planning. Murray State is also partnering with Baptist Health Paducah to create experiential learning opportunities for nursing students in a clinical setting.

Dina Byers, the Dean of Murray State’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, said a lot of work went into the grant from both Murray State and Baptist Health Paducah staff members.

The grant will include funding for virtual reality headsets and new mannequins to be used at the hospital and Murray State. Byers said the idea is to prepare students for real-world medical procedures in a safe environment.

“We want our students to be proficient before they go into the clinical setting,” Dina Byers states.

The nationwide nursing shortage, compounded by burnout, shortage of nursing school faculty and increasing demand for more nurses for an aging population, is expected to grow as more registered nurses near retirement age. The Kentucky Nurses Association estimates that the Commonwealth will be short by at least 20,000 nurses by 2025.

Byers said part of this grant’s purpose is to help increase nursing student enrollment and graduation rates. Murray State’s nursing program currently has 188 students enrolled. Byers says this is a decrease from years previous.

“[The nursing shortage] is a worry for us, and we are putting things into place such as this project that will provide support to more students. And I think it will lead to student success and being able to not only be admitted to our program, but to complete the program,” she said.

Byers hopes the new equipment and technology upgrades will be included in the new Nursing and Health Professions building, funded by a separate $45.5 million grant. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 with the first classes held in 2026.

Abigail Lonsway is a student at Murray State University. She enjoys music, the arts, and pop culture. She majors in TV Production.
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