Wayne State University

WSU's College of Nursing Receives $350,000 HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant

Wayne State’s College of Nursing was recently awarded a one-year, $350,000 Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce, Division of Nursing and Public Health. The college was one of only 12 awardees nationwide.

The Nursing Workforce Diversity project will use evidence-based approaches to increase retention of nursing students from underrepresented groups, including students from economically disadvantaged families as well as students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Ultimately, this will lead to a more diverse nursing workforce.

Dr. Katherine Zimnicki, the project’s director, noted, “Research has demonstrated that a diverse health care provider workforce promotes better outcomes for patients.”

The NWD funding will benefit 20 Wayne State nursing students recently accepted into the B.S.N. Second Career/Degree pathway, which is designed for individuals who have completed their undergraduate studies in another field but wish to pursue a career in nursing.  The program typically takes 16 to 20 months to complete.  Students will receive specialized academic support, including a dedicated academic advisor, access to tutors, group study sessions, and both peer and community mentors. Social activities will be planned throughout the year to help build community among all nursing students, faculty, and staff.

In addition to academic support, each student will receive a $10,000 stipend, allowing them to focus more on studies and less on economic needs. This is particularly important for these second degree students because student loan funding oftentimes runs out before the completion of a second undergraduate degree program. The college will also cover the cost for students to become certified nursing assistant (CNAs).

A major goal of this project is to create a sustainable model of student support once the one-year grant period is complete. The college plans to use existing university and college resources as well as to expand existing collaborative relationships with professional organizations in the area. “We are reaching out to several local nursing groups, including the National Arab American Nurse Association, the Black Nurses’ Association, and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, to build a one-on-one mentoring program for our second degree students,” said Zimnicki.

“Wayne State’s College of Nursing is highly committed to preparing a diverse nursing workforce, prepared to excel in the contemporary healthcare system,” said Dean Laurie Lauzon Clabo. “This is especially important as evidence suggests that professionals from diverse backgrounds often choose to practice in underserved communities, which improves access to health care for our most vulnerable individuals, families and communities."