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WKYT Investigates: Nurse Shortages

Kentucky is no stranger to healthcare hardships, and one factor playing a big role is the lack of nurses in rural communities.
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:11 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky is no stranger to healthcare hardships, and one factor playing a big role is the lack of nurses in rural communities.

The University of Kentucky is fighting a statewide need for more nurses in rural parts of the state, by giving students a scholarship to double major.

“Not only is it helping to bring more into the nursing profession, but more importantly for them to progress through successfully and to be out in the work force in a more timely program of study,” notes Dr. Janie Heath, the Dean of the College of Nursing. The College of Nursing is working with the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment on a scholarship. They’re making it possible for students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics or human nutrition and then an accelerated Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. They’re starting small with plans to expand. This fall, they’ll give the scholarship to three students who have plans to pursue rural nursing.

“It just hasn’t been out there on the forefront of their minds to look at how they can go back into their home communities and continue to serve and give,” says Dr. Heath.

The scholarship may help boost nursing’s numbers. Before 2020, there was a steady rise in the number of students enrolling in the College of Nursing. This past school year was the first in the last six, where the college’s enrollment numbers dropped. Dr. Heath says the dip was directly related to the pandemic.

Program graduates will be able to take the nursing licensure exam. Funding for the scholarship came from the Women in Philanthropy Network at UK.

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