Davis & Elkins College has been awarded a $980,950 grant from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Nursing Workforce Expansion Program to prepare nurses to meet the future health care needs in the Mountain State. One of the largest grant awards in the history of the College, the funds will be used to recruit, retain and graduate high-quality nurses through a new accelerated three-year Bachelor of Science in nursing program.

Justice’s Nursing Workforce Expansion Program, which is designed to address the state’s nursing shortage through a multifaceted approach to attract, train and retain nurses in West Virginia. Representing a fundamental part of this approach, an award program was established to fund nursing program expansion projects at colleges, universities, schools of nursing, and career technical education centers across West Virginia.

“With gratitude to Governor Justice and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Davis & Elkins College is committed to expanding the number of students in our well-respected nursing program and providing an avenue for their degree completion more quickly,” said Davis & Elkins College President Chris A. Wood. “The goal is highly qualified nurses serving in our local region, and this grant enables D&E to answer that need. Any individual that has considered entering the nursing profession should contact D&E admissions today, for there has never been a better time for financial aid for schooling and a guaranteed placement in the field upon completion.”

The new three-year accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing program will begin in May 2022.  Students who successfully complete the program will graduate in May 2025.

The accelerated program will complement the College’s traditional four-year BSN program. The Associate of Science in nursing and online RN-to-BSN programs will remain in place.

While students won’t be rushed through the program, they will follow an accelerated curriculum. In the summer of 2022, students will register for a few classes, including a preparation course for the ATI exam. They will also be able to have both online and in-person tutoring options available to them through The Naylor Learning Center.

“We are grateful for the grant, as it allows us to invest in our faculty, students and learning facilities —both here on campus as well as The Center for Advanced Clinical Learning located at Davis Medical,” said D&E Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips. “We anticipate that these investments will not only directly and positively impact the BSN program, but will also serve to further strengthen all of our nursing programs.”

The grant funding will provide direct benefit to students and faculty while lending support to recruitment efforts and educational resources for students and D&E education partners.

Student Impact

Students entering Davis & Elkins College with a declared major in nursing at the start of the summer 2022 session of fall 2022 semester will receive a $1,500 scholarship for the academic year. The scholarship is renewable if the student is accepted into and remains in good academic standing within the nursing program. In addition, students are eligible for additional scholarships including the Highlands Scholarship for qualifying West Virginia residents and scholarships with D&E’s partner medical facilities Mon Health, Davis Health System and Charleston Area Medical Center.

The grant funding also will provide for a living/learning community dedicated to nursing students. Residential housing in the Byrd Center will be available to three-year BSN students or those with a declared nursing major.

Increasing Faculty and Staff

In order to provide an adequate number of faculty members, the grant will provide for a signing or retention bonus for each new or current member of the nursing faculty and support staff. The funding will allow the College to maintain pace with the current course offerings for our various nursing programs and hire a minimum of two full-time faculty members and a maximum of four additional faculty members to meet the enrollment goals.

In addition, the College will hire a full-time admissions counselor dedicated to recruiting and screening prospective nursing students.

Adding Technology and Equipment

Grant funding for expansion of the D&E nursing program will provide for the purchase of additional equipment for the on-campus nursing skills lab and for The Center for Advanced Clinical Learning simulation lab at Davis Medical Center. A partnership established in 2017 enables Davis & Elkins students, along with Davis Health System nurses, to use the lab the learn and perfect skills.

All entering nursing students also will receive laptops to support online learning.

Getting the Word Out

The grant also will provide funding for communicating degree requirement, program outcomes, required courses and faculty specialties to prospective nursing students. The College will use an omnichannel marketing outreach for recruiting efforts.

The nursing program expansion awards are administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System. Twenty-six funded projects across the state were announced by Gov. Justice on March 17. Approved projects were required to be focused on increasing enrollment in pre-licensure nursing programs through innovative approaches focused on timely degree completion and licensure for graduates.

“We are tremendously grateful to Gov. Justice for providing this historic funding to support the expansion of nursing education programs across West Virginia,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “Through these new projects, our postsecondary education community will be better positioned to help shore up West Virginia’s nursing workforce – which, in turn, will help support our nurses working tirelessly on the front lines right now.”

Governor Justice announced the West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program in December 2021 by dedicating $48 million to support new and expanded initiatives that will train new nurses, fully fund the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program, value nurses already practicing in the state, and recruit nurses into West Virginia.