CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, Higher Education Institutions Launch Partnerships

CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs recently announced strategic partnerships with National Park College and Henderson State University that will focus on training additional nurses, and enriching the nursing programs at both higher education institutions.

CHI St. Vincent is committing to a three-year investment of $1.6 million, and will partner with each institution, providing financial assistance to students enrolled in National Park College's registered nursing program, and Henderson State's bachelor of science in nursing program, which is based in Hot Springs. In addition, CHI St. Vincent will provide financial support to equip a state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab at NPC, and to hire additional faculty at Henderson State.

Students selected for these partnership programs will be employed as nurses at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs upon completion of their respective programs and licensure.

"The need has never been greater for qualified nurses who are immediately ready upon graduation to provide excellent, compassionate care," said Tony Houston, president of CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. "These strategic partnerships are innovative ways to respond to a critical nursing shortage in Arkansas, and across the country. We are excited for the opportunity to increase student capacity for nursing programs here in Hot Springs. Nursing is a rewarding career, and this private-public partnership shows our joint commitment to ensuring we have the appropriate talent within the community to care for the citizens of the greater Hot Springs area. Moreover, careers in nursing provide very good pay and benefits, and help strengthen the overall economic health of the community."

Students who qualify have the opportunity to defray some costs and secure guaranteed employment as CHI St. Vincent will offer both the National Park College and Henderson State programs up to 20 financial aid packages, annually--a total of 40 per year for each year of the agreement. If students qualify, and select the financial support, those students will agree to work at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs for at least two years.

"These financial aid packages allow us to secure the needed nurses and increase students' financial security, while providing them job placement upon successful completion of the program," Houston said.

Through these partnerships, CHI St. Vincent is committing an investment of $1.6 million to grow jobs in the Hot Springs area. CHI St. Vincent is investing $1 million over the three-year period, split evenly between the schools, for nursing program growth and development. Additionally, CHI St. Vincent is committing up to $200,000 per year in financial aid packages ($100,000 to each school). In total, the financial aid packages could reach $600,000 over the three years of the agreement.

The investment will support Henderson State's hiring of additional faculty to increase the BSN program's capacity.

"We are thrilled that CHI St. Vincent has chosen to make such a significant investment in our nursing program," said Henderson State President Dr. Glen Jones. "This investment will enable Henderson State University to double the capacity of our nursing program, which will create more opportunities for our students, while meeting a critical need in our region. This year, Henderson State's nursing graduates recorded a 100 percent pass rate on their NCLEX exams. We are incredibly proud that CHI St. Vincent has recognized the quality of our program, and has committed to help us serve more students from this area, preparing them for successful careers in the medical field."

Support to National Park College will be directed toward the purchase of equipment to create a state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab to provide students with hands-on experience in the learning environment.

"The hospital has expressed the need, and NPC is proud to answer the call to provide additional qualified nurses for Garland County, and help bring four-year nursing degrees to Hot Springs," said National Park College President Dr. John Hogan. "NPC’s registered nursing program is well-regarded across the state for both the rigor of our coursework, and for the quality of our graduates. Students who choose nursing are special. They are passionate, motivated, and service minded. The path to become a nurse is challenging and those who succeed are highly qualified and in high demand. NPC began expanding the number of nursing students this semester. We are thankful for CHI St. Vincent’s generosity and support, and look forward to expanding our partnership. The investments being made will impact this community for many years."

Nursing degrees continue to be in demand across the country, with a recent study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicating that nearly 70 percent of all registered nurses have job offers upon college graduation, compared to 30 percent for all other professions.

That is largely because the demand for nurses across the country has never been greater. The United States Department of Labor says almost half of all the existing registered nurses in the nation will reach traditional retirement age within the next three years. As nurses leave the workforce, Baby Boomers are aging, pushing demand for nurses even higher. An additional four million nurses will be needed, nationwide, by 2024.