University of Oklahoma Announces $2.7 Million to Train More Nursing School Faculty, Advanced Practitioners

Grant funds will help train advanced practice nurses and potentially address the nurse faculty shortage.
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Published on August 17, 2023
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  • Oklahoma's flagship university announces new grants to encourage nurses to pursue faculty positions and more advanced degrees.
  • Funds will go toward aiding graduate nursing students.
  • OU will also use funds to expand its nursing curriculum and partnerships with the surrounding community.
  • Oklahoma has been hit particularly hard by the nationwide nursing shortage.

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has announced two new federal grants designed to train new nursing school faculty — a well-known cause of the national nursing shortage, which is particularly acute in the Sooner State.

The university's Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing recently announced federal grants totaling just over $2.7 million. The goal of each grant is to train more nursing school faculty and advanced practitioners, ultimately helping to address the nursing shortage.

Oklahoma has one of the nation's most acute nursing shortages. According to a NurseJournal analysis, Oklahoma's nurse-to-state population ratio (7.96 per 1,000 population) is the eighth-lowest in the nation, as of August 2022.

"Together, this federal funding provides Oklahoma nurses with the opportunity to advance their education as advanced practice [registered nurses] and/or nurse faculty," Julie Hoff, dean of the OU College of Nursing, said in a statement. "Improving access to graduate nursing education addresses two critical nursing workforce needs in Oklahoma: increases the number of nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists in rural communities, thus improving access to care, and … increases the number of nurses prepared to be faculty in Oklahoma nursing programs."

The first grant, a total of $206,603 provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), establishes a forgivable loan program for nursing students interested in becoming faculty. The lack of faculty to teach and train nursing students has been a key driver of the nursing shortage in Oklahoma and beyond.

The Nurse Faculty Loan Program applies to nurses seeking a graduate degree from OU. Loans from the program will provide nursing students with up to $40,000 per academic year to help cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, lab expenses, and other education expenses, according to the university.

Loan recipients can have up to 85% of their loan forgiven if they agree to work at an accredited nursing school post-graduation as a full-time faculty employee for at least four years.

Notably, Oklahoma is one of just a handful of states without a state loan repayment program that applies to nurses.

The second grant, also provided by HHS, is a much larger $2.5 million allotment that will help support nearly two dozen students each year pursuing an advanced practice nursing degree.

The Oklahoma Workforce Innovations in Nursing grant will fund scholarships and stipends for 12 full-time and nine part-time advanced practice students annually for the next four years. Students in the family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and adult/gerontology clinical nurse specialist tracks within the college's doctor of nursing practice program may qualify for a scholarship.

According to university officials, the workforce innovations grant will also allow the school to expand its curriculum and strengthen its academic partnerships with underserved rural and urban areas.