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SLU School of Nursing Awarded $300K to Combat Nursing Shortage

by Bridjes O'Neil
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Bridjes O'Neil
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bridjes.oneil@slu.edu
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ST. LOUIS, MO — Saint Louis University is one of 11 Missouri colleges and universities awarded nearly $3 million in grant funds to help enhance nursing education programs and develop solutions to alleviate staffing shortages nationwide. 

These competitive grants, totaling $2,997,690, were part of a special appropriation to the Missouri State Board of Nursing that was recommended and approved by Governor Mike Parson.

“My administration has prioritized workforce development, especially for our high demand fields such as nursing,” said Governor Parson in an announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 21. “It is vitally important that we continue to invest in Missouri’s health care workforce. These grant funds will assist with expanding clinical partnerships and nursing resources to better provide students with a valuable education as well as increase enrollment capacity in the future.” 

Bobbi Shatto, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and coordinator for the MSN clinical nurse leader program, smiles and poses for a photo outdoors.

Bobbi Shatto, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and coordinator for the MSN-CNL program. Submitted photo.

SLU was awarded a $298,137 grant and will utilize a multidimensional approach to combat the nursing faculty shortage. The nursing school will offer a formalized Nurse Educator Pathway for Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) graduate students, develop a faculty mentoring program, and provide enhanced nurse educator apprenticeships. The nursing school will also collaborate with clinical partners to develop recruitment and marketing plans to enroll new students and provide scholarship funding for students who enroll in the CNL Educator Pathway.

“We are excited to have been selected for this grant opportunity,” said Danny Willis, DNS, dean of SLU’s Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing. “We are well positioned in the Valentine School to provide excellent masters level education to nurses who will fill critical unfilled positions as nurse educators in the state.”

The Missouri State Board of Nursing’s most recent workforce analysis report in 2021 indicated nursing shortages in certain geographic areas of the state. This report is conducted annually and provides valuable information on targeting solutions driven by data.

The demand for Registered Nurses (RN) in the past five years has increased by 98.5%, yet licensed RNs only increased by 17% during that same period. In Missouri, 23 schools of nursing have at least 50 open full-time faculty positions and need an additional 118 full-time faculty to accept all qualified nursing students, according to a Missouri Hospital Association report.

“Maintaining consistent faculty is key to student success and decreases burnout and turnover of current faculty members. Implementation of this proposed project will allow future educators to seek a graduate degree without the burden of debt,” said Bobbi Shatto, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and coordinator for the MSN-CNL program. “By participating in the CNL Educator Pathway, students will learn teaching skills, practice educator competencies, and receive mentorship during apprenticeships with experienced nursing faculty.” 

Shatto, whose expertise includes transition to practice, says while this grant addresses the first problem of populating the pipeline – retaining nurses, particularly newer nurses, in the workforce is the other.  

“Right now, schools are turning away students. We can’t fix the nursing shortage if we don’t have nursing faculty,” Shatto said. “The average age of nursing faculty is 57 years. Within five years, there will be a massive nursing faculty shortage.”

Shatto will serve as grant coordinator with implementation support from members of her grant team. They include Joanne Thanavaro, DNP, professor of nursing and associate dean of graduate education; Kristine L'Ecuyer, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and associate dean for undergraduate and pre-licensure programs; and Eric Armbrecht, Ph.D., associate provost for graduate enrollment and growth strategies.

The Missouri State Board of Nursing is a division of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance and worked in coordination with the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development to select these grant recipients. More information on NEIP grants may be obtained from the Missouri State Board of Nursing’s website.

For more information, contact Bobbi Shatto at 314-977-8947 or bobbi.shatto@slu.edu.

Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing

Founded in 1928, the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research and clinical expertise.