Governor Mike Parson announced this week that $300,000 in grant funding has been approved for the South Center Career Center (SCCC) Practical Nursing program. The grant is to help enhance nursing education programs and develop solutions to help alleviate staffing shortages felt nationwide.
As a career center serving 13 area high schools, SCCC is in a unique position to increase the number of LPNs in south central Missouri. The program is designed to encourage early entry into the field by allowing a select group of students to begin training for a practical nursing credential in their senior year of high school.
Over the past six months, SCCC has had discussions with Ozarks Healthcare (OZH) to increase the number of practical nurses entering the field and offer an early entry point for students in high school. This grant opportunity provides the necessary funding for that to occur. In short, this grant would allow SCCC and its 13 partner schools to establish the Nursing Early Admissions Track (NEAT) for health science students. NEAT will focus on addressing the major shortage of licensed practical nurses in south central Missouri. Admitted students would spend their senior year completing the Level 1 requirements for the SCCC practical nursing program and join the adult program in May following high school graduation, significantly reducing the time to completion from 22 months post-high school graduation to 8 months.
Grant expenditures would take place beginning July 1, 2023, and conclude by June 30, 2025.
“The grant funding helps us to hire the staff and purchase equipment to start a high school cohort of a practical nursing program. Students from 13 area high schools will be able to apply for this program and get a head start on healthcare training,” Dr. Josh Cotter, SCCC Director, said. “This project would not have been possible without our Practical Nursing Coordinator, Mrs. Becky Wernsing, and our partners at Missouri State University-West Plains and Ozarks Healthcare.”