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Gov. Jim Justice in December announced the West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program, which aims to address the ongoing nursing shortage. He said in that press briefing that the state has seen 1,700 nurses leave the field, and it’s been compounded by the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the hope is the expansion program will change this trend.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission on Thursday approved two new Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs for Concord University and Glenville State University.
“We are tremendously grateful to Gov. Justice for providing this historic funding to support the expansion of nursing education programs across West Virginia,” said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s chancellor of higher education. “Through these new projects, our postsecondary education community will be better positioned to help shore up West Virginia’s nursing workforce, which, in turn, will help support our nurses working tirelessly on the front lines right now.”
The two new programs are among 27 nursing education programs at colleges, universities, schools of nursing, and career technical education centers across West Virginia that have received a total of $25.5 million through the governor’s nursing workforce expansion.
Concord will offer its own nursing program, while Glenville will offer its BSN through a partnership with Marshall University.
Concord’s BSN will be a 120 credit-hour program and will focus on meeting rural healthcare needs to help address the shortage of registered nurses in southern West Virginia.
Glenville State University will offer an educational opportunity that is not currently available in the central part of the state.
Concord’s BSN will begin in spring 2023, while Glenville’s will begin in the fall of that same year.
The HEPC on Thursday also approved university status for Bluefield State College.
The change will not go into effect until an official change is made by the school’s board of governors and the state legislature.
The criteria for university status, according to the HEPC, include offering at least one master’s-level degree program; having an approved mission statement that provides for the offering of graduate programs; obtaining the approval of the Higher Learning Commission to offer any master’s degree program; and having at least two-thirds of its faculty holding a terminal degree.