Henderson State receives $761,200 state grant for nursing program

Dr. Trey Berry, from left, Dr. Kristina Shelton, and Dr. Celya Taylor.

Henderson State University has received a $761,200 grant to help train more nurses and further enhance the quality of its nursing program.

The grant, awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for the Arkansas Linking Industry to Grow Nurses (ALIGN) program, was announced by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Monday at a press conference in Little Rock.

It was one of 19 grants awarded to Arkansas higher education institutions with the goal of training more nurses amid a nationwide shortage.

“We would like to thank Gov. Sanders, Arkansas Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald, and Director Stephanie Isaacs of Arkansas Office of Skills Development for this opportunity to enhance nursing education at Henderson State,” said Henderson Chancellor Dr. Trey Berry. “This grant will allow us to expand not only the number of nursing students and instructors in our program, but also the quality of that education through equipment updates and other improvements.”

The ALIGN program is supported through American Rescue Plan Act funding and will be administered by the state Commerce Department’s Office of Skills Development, McDonald said at the press conference.

“What we’re trying to do here is to increase the number of nursing professionals, nursing apprenticeships, and increase and retain our nursing educators in a way where our employers obviously are going to hire them,” McDonald said.

“We are beyond thankful to be a recipient of the Arkansas Align Grant,” said Dr. Kristina Shelton, chief academic nursing officer at Henderson. “Our nursing program prepares student nurses to go out into the world and make a difference in the lives of their patients and families.

“With the grant, we will be able to exponentially grow our nursing program and equip nursing graduates with the tools to continue caring for our communities at a high level of excellence.”

Shelton said the grant will “provide us with the technology to move Henderson nursing into the future and grow our program enrollment by offering the most up to date experiences and opportunities.”

Each institution was also required to provide a health care partner contribution, with a 2-1 match by the state for every dollar contributed.

Henderson partnered with CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs.

“We also would like to thank CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs for their partnership in the grant and for their continued friendship with Henderson in all areas of nursing education,” Berry said. “We could not do what we do without their relationship.”

Dr. Celya Taylor, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Henderson is proud of its nursing students, alumni, and faculty for “continuing the tradition of high-quality nurse preparation and service across the state.”

“Henderson's nursing programs provide ways to grow in the profession for nurses at all levels, from our online RN to BSN program and traditional undergraduate preparation, to our online MSN degrees in nursing education/leadership and family nurse practitioner,” Taylor said. “The ALIGN grant provides tremendous assistance in increasing undergraduate program capacity to meet the needs of even more aspiring nurse professionals.

“We are grateful to everyone who led this initiative and are excited to continue investing in the future of healthcare in Arkansas.”

For more information about Henderson’s nursing program, go to hsu.edu/nursing.