GVSU grant to boost nurse training, combat shortage

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Valley State University Kirkhof College of Nursing has been awarded a federal grant aimed at improving health care in rural and under-served communities.

The federal government is offering the grants to health care training programs that will place trainees in health care settings in rural communities.

“We know persons in rural communities have difficulty with access to care. And as part of the Affordable Care Act, this grant was funded in order to provide experiences for advanced-practice nurses in rural areas so that perhaps people would choose careers in rural health,” GVSU Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Karen Burritt said. “We know also that only about 16 percent of the total nurse practitioner population actually practices in rural areas.”

At GVSU, the grant will be used to give students pursuing a doctorate in nursing tuition assistance and real-life training.

According to the American Nurses Association, it’s estimated there will be a need for roughly 3.44 million nurses in the U.S. by 2022. But while the demand for nurses is increasing, the number of registered nurses is shrinking.

“Because there are so many opportunities for our men and women to pursue as far as education, we really need to make nursing an attractive education opportunity,” Burritt said. “Part of the nursing shortage is, as well, that the average age of nurses is 47 in the United States. So one of the things that we’re concerned about is … that we expect by 2022 that over 55 percent of the current nurses in the United States will be eligible for retirement.”

However, nursing jobs saw the big pay raises over the past year, according to job advice site Glassdoor. Registered nurses saw a 7 percent increase to a base pay of $68,000 and certified nursing assistants saw an 11 percent increase to a base pay of $50,000. To put that in perspective, the national average for an annual pay increase across all jobs was 2.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.