Congress’ funding bill has passed into law and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University’s facilities renovations project for $1.9 million has been included by Congressman Graves to help strengthen healthcare workforce preparation in the community.
The funds will go toward improving the University’s facilities that help train future healthcare professionals thereby meeting some of Louisiana’s most critical healthcare workforce needs.
“When folks are sick, injured or having a health emergency, they need access to healthcare professionals. We are seeing a national shortage of healthcare professionals that translates into delayed access to care. Working with FranU, we’ve scored a win-win – expanding capacity to train new healthcare professionals and helping Louisianans gain good-paying jobs. We look forward to continuing to solve problems with FranU and others,” stated U.S. Congressman Garret Graves.
The University prepares students with the skills they need to enter high-demand jobs in healthcare professions, including but not limited to nursing, medical lab science, physical therapy, radiologic technology and respiratory therapy. The majority of graduates remain in Louisiana.
The project will increase FranU’s capacity to prepare future allied health professionals by renovating the first floor of the School of Health Professions building to create approximately 4,000 square feet of new classrooms, offices and experiential learning facilities.
The facilities improvement project is part of a campus master plan development that is designed to increase operational efficiencies and to provide much needed increased capacity to accommodate a growing number of students in nursing and allied health professions. It will indirectly impact thousands of South Louisiana residents who will be able to access healthcare services provided by the professionals trained through FranU’s programs.
Tina Holland, president and CEO of FranU said, “We are very grateful for this much needed support of FranU’s longstanding mission and ongoing work to educate and form professionals in highly demanded healthcare fields.”
Between 2015 and 2021, FranU graduated more than 1,300 students in healthcare fields. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, FranU responded by graduating 48 students in its respiratory therapy and nursing programs early to expedite their entrance into the workforce and alleviate some of the pressure on Louisiana healthcare professionals.
Through the Simulated Environment Teaching Hospital, FranU provides crucial simulation training to nursing and health professions students to teach them real-world skills in a way that minimizes risk to patients. SETH also offers meaningful continuing education opportunities to the broader Baton Rouge community, including basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and ECG refresher courses. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, SETH held an annual mass casualty disaster simulation on campus for health professionals from across the Baton Rouge area.
According to the 2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Baton Rouge region’s industries and businesses face multiple challenges, including a lack of workforce training that matches business and industry needs and provides a robust pipeline of qualified candidates.
The state’s workforce needs are particularly acute in healthcare fields. The U.S. Department of Labor projected an annual growth rate of 20 percent to 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. The Louisiana Workforce Commission predicted a16.99 percent increase in demand for respiratory therapists between 2012 and 2022. The pandemic has only further highlighted the need for respiratory therapists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Founded in 1923, FranU is a small, Catholic, not-for-profit institution with a healthcare emphasis. The University offers degrees in nursing, health sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences and natural sciences. The Schools of Nursing and Health Professions offer associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in some of the most in-demand medical fields, including but not limited to nursing, physical therapy and physician assistant. The University also offers certificate programs in phlebotomy, applied behavior analysis and clinical microbiology, among others. FranU enrolls an average of 1,200 students annually.