FranU Selected to Participate in Regional Healthcare Innovation Partnership Program

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Franciscan Missionaries School of Nursing was selected by the Louisiana Board of Regents to participate in the Regional Healthcare Innovation Partnership Program, providing $250,000 to implement Wolves on the RISE.

FranU’s Wolves on the RISE (Resources Increasing Self-Empowerment), is an innovative, multi-faceted program that will rapidly expand the nursing workforce in multiple Regional Labor Market Areas covered (RLMA 1, RLMA 2, and RLMA 4) by establishing new partnerships with Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System hospitals and HOPE Ministries. Currently, FranU’s Nursing School enrolls one cohort of students into the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program each August.

Wolves on the RISE will launch, for the first time, a spring ABSN cohort beginning January 2024 that will provide an expanded holistic range of student support services resulting in higher retention and completion rates among these students. Collectively, this evidence-based, comprehensive approach will positively impact the nursing workforce in RLMA 1, 2 and 4.

Dean of Nursing Amy Hall stated, “We are so excited about this inclusive and culturally relevant program. Not only will it allow us to increase the nursing workforce but because of its unique focus, we will be able to provide better access to educational experiences and opportunities for students of all backgrounds to achieve their professional career goals. The program's unique focus on student support which includes tuition assistance, mentoring by practicing nurses and life skill coaching, will help our students reach their goals of becoming a registered nurse. Because of this program, we have elevated our ability to change the lives of our students as well as the patients they will care for.”

Nurses are in great demand nationwide. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 203,000 registered nurse positions are expected to be posted annually from 2021-2031. In addition to the high turnover and job growth, over half of the nursing workforce is over the age of 50, with more than 20% of the current workforce planning on retiring within the next five years. The current shortage of nursing faculty, along with a lack of physical space, clinical sites, preceptors and budget constraints, has placed limits on the number of students nursing programs can accept, further contributing to the nursing shortage.

Louisiana has also been severely impacted by the nursing shortage. The Louisiana Center for Nursing conducts a survey of nurse employers every four years. The latest survey showed that from 2014 to 2018, the number of open nursing positions in hospitals in the state of Louisiana doubled and the turnover percentage went from 13.8% in 2014 to 19.4% in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the nursing shortage with nurses reporting greater burnout and moral distress. In 2021, 92% of critical care nurses surveyed responded that the pandemic has caused nurses to leave hospitals and 66% said they have considered leaving the nursing profession personally because of the pandemic.

Due to these sobering trends, it is paramount that colleges and universities develop innovative curricula that cater to a diverse population of learners in Louisiana and partner with healthcare organizations to create rapid and innovative solutions to address the nursing shortage and the shortage of qualified nursing faculty.

FranU’s recent launch of the accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will allow students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree to attain a BSN degree in 16 months, approximately half the time it would typically require for such a student to complete a traditional four-year nursing degree. Moreover, the average age of the 2022 ABSN students (30) is higher than those entering a traditional BSN program (25). The ABSN age range aligns more closely with populations of Louisianans less likely to emigrate from the state. Therefore, a sustained infusion of the regional workforce with more ABSN graduates appears to be a winning strategy to address both short-term and long-term workforce needs across the state.

There has been significant student interest in this program since its launch, with both the fall 2021 and fall 2022 cohort applications greatly exceeding the number of 24 seats available. The initial two cohorts have more closely represented the diversity inherent in the region. While 30% of the students in our much larger traditional BSN program identify as black, indigenous and people of color, the ABSN program’s BIPOC population exceeded 40%.

Wolves on the RISE will also provide students evidence-based academic student support services that include intrusive advising, staff nurse mentoring, financial assistance, career/life coaching, expanded ABSN clinical sites to RLMA 1, 2 and 4, and enhanced clinical adjunct academic practice model. These student support services represent a comprehensive systems approach with evidence-based strategies that will make a positive impact on at-risk students. Students who will be included in the WOLVES on the RISE program face multiple challenges that put them at risk of not completing their nursing program.

Janet Simmons, President and CEO of HOPE Ministries explained, “The partnership between HOPE and FranU brings together expertise and resources to provide students with the vital support they need to stay in school and achieve success. By joining forces, the partnership offers personalized coaching and guidance to help students overcome obstacles outside the classroom and cultivate essential skills. The collaborative effort will empower students to excel academically and enhance their ability to serve patients and contribute effectively to the healthcare workforce.”

FMOLHS has a need to increase the nursing workforce in all its markets. Thus, the Wolves on the RISE Program will expand the FMOLHS clinical sites used by FranU to include Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette (RLMA 4) and Our Lady of the Lake Northshore (RMLA 1).

“Our Lady of the Lake Health is proud to partner with FranU in working to cultivate and educate the next generation of healthcare providers while finding real solutions to solve a nationwide challenge,” shared Chuck Spicer, Our Lady of the Lake Health president. “FranU’s Wolves on the RISE provides opportunity for diverse talents to join our industry and help us to continue bringing the Spirit of Healing to the communities we are privileged to serve.”

The program aligns with several recommendations of the Health Works Commission to expand healthcare workforce capacity by providing funding for the development of a statewide strategic plan to address the nursing shortage and, specifically and ultimately, to increase diversity in the workforce; support funding opportunities (grants, scholarships, tuition reduction programs, etc.) to decrease tuition costs for nursing students, especially those from diverse backgrounds; and identify and document strategies to improve access, admission, retention and graduation of minority students in the nursing workforce.

For more information about the Accelerated BSN at FranU please visit Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Accelerated | FranU.

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