Caring for Colorado grant supports expansion of Adams State's RN-BSN program


The Caring for Colorado Foundation awarded a grant of $91,489 to Adams State University's Nursing Department to expand and enhance its online RN-to-BSN program, according to Dr. Shawn Elliott, director of Nursing.

"Our ultimate goal is to improve quality of healthcare in the San Luis Valley and surrounding region by increasing the number and diversity of BSN-trained nurses," Elliott added. "This very generous two-year grant will help us expand access to the program across southern Colorado." She noted the capacity-building project will also help meet the state's 2020 goal of increasing the number and diversity of nurses holding a BSN. "Our RN-to-BSN online program is both affordable and flexible, to meet the needs of working registered nurses from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds," Elliott noted. The department recently revised its online RN-to-BSN program, based on feedback from nursing graduates.

The grant project aims to triple the number of students in Adams State's program over the next two years, from 10 to 33, and to increase the proportion of Hispanic students in the program from ten to thirty percent. Overall minority representation will increase to 40 percent. Toward these goals, the grant will fund a new Nursing Department position of RN-to-BSN Program Coordinator who will also teach nine credits in the program. A new recruitment plan with a strong diversity component will focus on rural areas across the San Luis Valley, southeast and southwest Colorado.

The grant project also includes a collaboration with the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence, which presents a community-based nurse mentoring component to connect local Hispanic nurses to Hispanic students in the program.

The new mentoring component will provide vital experiential learning for nursing students. "Students will be able to apply new knowledge and skills in community and work settings. Our curriculum imparts professional nursing standards with a focus on cultural diversity, community service, and rural health care, as established by our accrediting agency, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)," Elliott said.

In 2011, the Caring for Colorado Foundation awarded a grant of $79,878 to the Nursing Department in support of a clinical placement coordinator/simulation lab facilitator position. "We are very grateful for the continuing support of the Caring for Colorado in building our nursing program and improving local health care," Elliott said.

The San Luis Valley anticipates increased need for BSN-trained nurses as older nurses retire and more previously uninsured individuals enter the health care system due to health care reform. Fifteen Southern Colorado counties, including five of six in the San Luis Valley, are designated a Medically Underserved Area/Population. The 2015 Colorado Health Access Survey reveals that health conditions in the SLV are relatively poor in comparison to the state as a whole.

A federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, Adams State has a student population that is 35 percent Hispanic, with a total of 49 percent representing minority groups. Caring for Colorado is a health grantmaking foundation working to increase health and health care access statewide.

By Julie Waechter