Nursing Receives $1.1 Million Grant to Reach Underserved Areas

The Oral Roberts University Anna Vaughn College of Nursing (AVSON) is working to reverse a disturbing trend of poor health in Oklahoma. AVSON recently received a workforce diversity grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that was fully funded at more than $1.1 million over three years and will help the school serve northeastern Oklahoma by recruiting minority and disadvantaged students who will work in these rural areas after graduation.

In 2007 Oklahoma was ranked number 47 in the nation in overall health by the United Health Foundation. This was down from number 44 in 2005. Oklahoma, and especially rural northeastern Oklahoma, needs better health services and that means more nurses.

"This grant will help us recruit young men and women from rural areas, train them as nurses, and send them back into their communities," said Dr. Kenda Jezek, dean of the school of nursing.

This grant will provide a wide range of services to help AVSON in their efforts to reach minority, rural, and disadvantaged students who want to enroll in the nursing program. There will be eight $5,000 scholarships and 20 stipends of $300 per month up to $3,000 available for these students. The students who receive these awards will be required to take part in programs designed to help them achieve success in their academic pursuits. These activities include regular lunchtime seminars where students can learn to master life skills such as time management and study skills, Saturday academies where students will hear from minority professionals who are examples of the success they can achieve, and a summer academy that will acclimate these students to the university atmosphere and help them brush up on basic-level academics.

Funds will also be used to provide social support for these students as they work toward academic success and will allow for several tutors to be made available. AVSON will also be able to sponsor a time for the families of these students to visit them on campus each semester. This way, families can learn about the university environment and can encourage students while they are away from home.

"We want to deliver quality education and stay on the cutting edge," said Jezek.

This grant will help AVSON become better at recruitment and retention of minority and disadvantaged students and will pay for the services of three consultants who are experts in both raising funds for scholarships and recruitment and retention of minority students and cultural sensitivity. The school will also partner with the Northeastern Oklahoma Area Health Education Center to receive help and guidance in how to supply rural areas with nurses.

"The funds from this grant will enable us to help develop ourselves by bringing these experts in," said Jezek. "We are all going to learn a great deal."