(BIVN) – The University of Hawaiʻi is set to receive state funds in order to fill needed instructor positions in order to graduate more nurses to meet the workforce demands of the state.
Governor David Ige recently released $1.75 million for 39 new instructor positions “to help address the severe nursing faculty shortage and to support University of Hawaiʻi nursing programs statewide.” The funding was approved by state lawmakers during the 2022 legislative session.
The funding includes $532,150 for 12 positions at the UH-Hilo.
From a University of Hawaiʻi news release issued on Thursday:
A news conference was held on the UH Mānoa campus today, Thursday, October 13, to discuss the appropriation and its importance. Ige attended along with UH President David Lassner, Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing (HSCN) Director Laura Reichhardt, UH Mānoa Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing Interim Dean Clementina Ceria-Ulep, state lawmakers and healthcare system leaders who have been supportive of the funding.
There are an estimated 1,000 current nurse vacancies in Hawaiʻi, according to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Hawaiʻi State labor data predicts there is an anticipated growth of nurse demand of an additional 110 positions each year, through 2030.
“COVID-19 created an opportunity to collaborate with UH President David Lassner and the UH System to ensure our state higher education system is well positioned to help the state respond to this incredible healthcare challenge,” said Ige. “The $1.75 million I allocated for UH is an investment which will support the stability and future of nursing education in Hawaiʻi.”
The 39 positions will support instruction needs for approximately 230 nursing students. Currently, there are about 770 nursing students enrolled across the UH System: UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, UH Maui College, Kapiʻolani Community College, Kauaʻi CC and Hawaiʻi CC.
Support for state’s largest educator of nurses
UH System schools educated and trained 59% of the 442 LPN and RN students who graduated from schools throughout Hawaiʻi in the last academic year. UH nursing programs make up six of the eight pre-license nursing education programs in Hawaiʻi that prepare students for entry into LPN or RN practice. In addition, UH programs are the only way for neighbor island students to become nurses in Hawaiʻi.
UH nursing schools with the greatest faculty and instructor needs are receiving the most support, which will benefit neighbor island and community college programs.
UH Mānoa – $354,767 (8 positions)
UH Hilo – $532,150 (12 positions)
UH Community Colleges – $842,572 (19 positions)
Kapiʻolani CC – (9 positons)
UH Maui College – (3 positions)
Kaua‘i CC – 3 positions)
Hawaiʻi CC – 4 positions)
Professional development training: $27,000
In order to retain the new nursing instructors, $27,000 will support their professional development to gain new competencies in nursing education.
“The funding will support the incredible contributions UH nursing schools provide to the state. I’d like to thank Gov. Ige, with the support of our state lawmakers, for investing in our academic workforce in order to improve retention of our highly talented faculty and to enroll qualified students whose dreams are to become a nurse,” said Lassner.
Meeting current, future workforce demands
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, state nursing schools were able to graduate an adequate number of nurses to meet workforce needs, according to the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing. However, in the last two academic years, there has been a loss of 15% of state-funded nursing positions. In addition, budget constraints prevented schools from receiving funds to hire replacements for faculty who left their positions.
“To regain balance, Hawaiʻi must immediately increase the number of nurses we graduate. It takes 4 years to graduate as a bachelors-prepared nurse. Efforts today will impact our nursing workforce in 4 years. The time to act is now,” said Reichhardt, who leads HSCN efforts to respond to nursing workforce shortages.