Loyola Nursing receives $2.2M in federal funding

Loyola Nursing receives $2.2M in federal funding

Jessica Martinez-Vega is part of the first BSN Pathway cohort, an initiative between the School of Nursing and Loyola's Arrupe College that aims to increase opportunities for underrepresented students to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Grant will support School’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the nursing workforce

June 17, 2021

Loyola University Chicago’s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing received a $2.2 million, four-year Nursing Workforce Development grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary federal agency charged with improving health care for people who are geographically isolated or economically and medically vulnerable. 

With significant funding from this grant, we will focus on recruiting Black and Latino students and faculty in our four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, develop a student success center, and address social determinants of education and other structural factors that impede their academic and career success,” says Loyola Nursing Dean and Grant Project Director Lorna Finnegan, PhD, RN, FAAN. 

Building a better, more diverse nursing workforce 

To reduce health disparities and inequities, the nursing workforce must better reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities it serves. In Illinois, 14.6 percent of the population is Black/African American, yet only 8.4 percent of Illinois’ nursing workforce is Black, according to 2019 U.S. Census and Illinois Nursing Workforce Survey data. Similarly, Hispanic/Latino nurses comprise only 4.5 percent of the states nursing workforce, despite accounting for 17.5 percent of the states population. With this funding, Loyola Nursing can strengthen its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and increase Black and Latino students’ access to a quality nursing education and career. 

Creating a more diverse nursing workforce that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of communities served is a tangible and essential step toward achieving the far-reaching goal of reducing health disparities and inequities, says Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Grant Evaluation Director Lee Schmidt, PhD, RN.  

Working together to create pathways  

Loyola Nursing will expand its successful partnership with LoyolaArrupe College, a two-year program that offers a rigorous liberal arts education for students who are underrepresented in higher education. In 2019, the Schools joined forces and launched a pathway program for Arrupe students to begin Loyola Nursings BSN program while pursuing their associate degree at Arrupe College. The first cohort began the BSN program through this pathway model in the Fall 2020 semester. 

Our pathway program is one of the foundational elements of Loyola Nursings Inclusive Excellence Initiative to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in the School of Nursing,” says Finnegan. 

Using the HRSA funding, Loyola Nursing will collaborate with Arrupe College to implement an innovative CARE (Collaboration, Access, Resources, and Equity) Pathway model and expand the number of students in the Loyola Nursing Pathway to the BSN from Arrupe to 33 during the grant period. The CARE model includes:   

  • Collaboration: Enhance the collective infrastructure of Loyola Nursing’s academic, practice, and community partnerships to better support Black and Latino students.
  • Access: Increase access to Loyola Nursing’s four-year BSN program for Black and Latino students.
  • Resources Equity: Tailor resources so Black and Latino students have the support needed to achieve equity by minimizing barriers to achieving their educational potential. 

Supporting students through evidence-based strategies  

To support this initiative, Loyola Nursing will use multiple evidence-based strategies such as: individually-tailored academic, and professional integration programming and support services; recruitment and retention of Black and Latino faculty; alumni, peer, and professional mentoring and coaching; application support and holistic admissions; financial support to Black and Latino students; and a resiliency and well-being program so that students can build capacity to respond well to difficult and stressful situations during their nursing education and beyond.  

Funds from the HRSA grant are essential to establish the infrastructure for the CARE Pathway to the BSN and develop the capacity and ability for ongoing leadership of the program after funding ends. Loyola Nursing is committed to sustaining the program beyond the four-year grant period.