Wesley donation expands nursing program

8:35:46 AM CDT - Thursday, March 11, 2004

WSU's School of Nursing will accept 20 more students this year to its program, thanks to a gift from a local hospital.

Wesley Medical Center and its parent company HCA have donated $300,000 to help alleviate the nursing shortage in Kansas. The donation supports nursing faculty, allowing Wichita State University to enroll more nursing students.

"The problem is not a lack of people applying to nursing schools," said Sue Ebertowski, chief nursing officer at Wesley. "The problem is that the schools do not have enough faculty to add more students to their nursing programs."

WSU accepts a new class of 40 nursing students twice each year in January and September. However, last fall the university had to turn away 71 qualified applicants.

"Each group of nursing students has been capped at 40 for more than a decade because our budget has remained almost constant," said Juanita Tate, chair of the WSU School of Nursing.

Tuition pays only a portion of the cost of education at state universities, and the state of Kansas has not increased nursing education funds, she said.

Because of the pledge, WSU accepted 10 additional students in January. Ten more new students will be accepted at WSU in the fall.

The pledge allows WSU to hire clinical faculty for the various clinical rotations.

State regulations require one faculty member for every 10 students when in a clinical environment, according to Tate.
The donation is from the "HCA Cares" fund, which was originally established to provide health care scholarships for workers displaced as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

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