Making More Nurses

Making More Nurses

Indiana needs nurses by the thousands, both for today’s current shortfalls and for projected future demand. So, entities across the state are teaming up to increase nursing training and education in several really big ways. We’re going to be producing tomorrow’s workforce at much higher rate than previously seen, and we’re going to be doing it in innovative ways.

According to numbers from labor market firm Emsi/Burning Glass, the Hoosier state has about 4,300 annual openings for nurses today and will need an additional 5,000 nurses by 2031.

Combined, all of the educational institutions in Indiana currently produce just shy of 2,960 nurses each year.

Nearly half of them come from Ivy Tech Community College (about 1,320), which is why the school was chosen by two separate healthcare organizations to launch expansion efforts in nursing enrollment and employment throughout the state.

Indiana has about 4,300 job openings for nurses each year. We’ll also need an additional 5,000 nurses by 2031 due to demand. (Source: Emsi/Burning Glass).


An $8.75 Million Jumpstart

Indiana University Health, the state’s largest healthcare system, took a big step earlier this year to back Ivy Tech’s plans for nursing program expansion. They provided an $8.75 million grant to support things like faculty and staff recruiting, compensation, educational equipment, and services for students across the state.

“Currently there are qualified applicants each year in Indiana who are turned away from nursing schools due to limitations on teaching space, clinical placement availability, and faculty resources. It is incumbent upon health systems, working with our educational partners, to support an expansion of the educational pipeline to allow more qualified students to become professional nurses,” said IU Health Executive Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive Jason Gilbert when the grant was made.

Ivy Tech’s plan is to increase nursing admissions by 600 students annually by 2025 at all of its 19 campuses across the state. 18 of these campuses currently have nursing programs, and the remaining campus in Hamilton County will have one by 2023.

The college is rather well suited for this kind of expansion. Already, Ivy Tech claims the record for producing the most associate-degree nursing students over any other institution in the nation. The good thing for the Indiana is that 9 out of 10 of these graduates tend to stay in the state.

“Our ability to educate nurses and keep them in our state will create real value for our economy and the health of Indiana. We’re very proud to partner with IU Health and appreciate its investment in our program,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech.

With the funds, the college will be making long term investments into things like equipment, supplies, and faculty. Estimates project it will all amount to roughly $8.7 million in recurring costs over three years and an additional $12.1 million in one-time costs.


New Partner, New School

Not long after the announcement about the new grant funding, Ivy Tech announced it had brought on another major healthcare partner to help boost the pipeline of nursing students. Beacon Health System brought the bait, so to speak, in the form of several incentive offerings designed to entice more individuals from the South Bend-Elkhart area into the nursing career path.

The two partnering institutions plan to establish the Beacon Health System School of Nursing at Ivy Tech starting in the fall of 2022. At this school, students in the new Beacon Scholars Program will have the cost of their Ivy Tech education paid for by Beacon Health – including their books. The health network will also provide these students with a living stipend and future employment as a nurse.

That may well be one of the clearest examples of an employer developing a direct path to skilled employee onboarding, and it’s not the whole of their investment. Beacon Health says it will also be providing additional resources and investments into facility improvements at Ivy Tech to prep students for clinical settings.

“We are grateful to the entire Beacon team for their dedication to the South Bend-Elkhart area and for their service, creativity, and generosity as we work together to address the critical need for nurses in our region,” said Ivy Tech Chancellor Dr. David Balkin. “We hope that our collaboration model will be replicated locally and throughout the state to meet Indiana’s need for well-trained staff in all aspects of our healthcare system.”


Likely More to Come

Each of these developments are big steps in terms of nursing program expansion for Indiana. The labor demand is certainly unlikely to wane anytime soon, and competition for skilled nurses among employers is likely to be high for some time. As such, these efforts to increase supply are likely just the beginning of new and innovative partnerships that we’ll be seeing in nursing. There could be lots more to come.

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