Donations from IHC to Help WSU Graduate 150 Additional Nurses

OGDEN, Utah – Intermountain Health Care (IHC) is donating $1,025,000 to Weber State University to help train 150 additional registered nurses.  IHC also will donate $100,000 to WSU's Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

"We are pleased to be able to strengthen our partnership with IHC and continue our mission of meeting the health care education needs in our region, as well as through our outreach programs to rural areas in Utah," said Shelley Conroy, dean of WSU’s Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions. "The nursing program has a long history of responding to the educational needs of Utahns through innovative instructional delivery methods, while maintaining our reputation for delivering excellent nursing practitioners."

Nationally there is a shortage of nurses, and the trend is expected to continue.  Some estimates project that by 2020 the U.S. will have a 20 percent shortage in the number of nurses needed.  While Utah has not yet experienced the shortage to the same degree as other places in the country, more nurses are needed to care for the sick and elderly.

"One of the major challenges in Utah is that many qualified applicants for nursing school are turned down because the programs don't have the capacity for more students," said Nancy Woods-Kershner, RN, chief nursing officer for McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.  "This donation will help address that problem by allowing more teaching staff to be added to the Weber State program.  Rather than wait until the nursing shortage becomes a crisis in Utah, we've taken steps to be proactive," she said.

"These donations and new programs fill two purposes," said Nancy Nowak, RN, IHC's chief nursing officer. "They help provide more graduates to work in Utah's hospitals and clinics - and they're part of IHC's mission of community service. Through these donations and innovative partnerships we will make a positive difference," she said.

"IHC's gift is a tremendous boost to the community and the qualified students seeking admission to our programs," said Debra T. Huber, chair of WSU’s Department of Nursing.   "We are able to admit 20 additional associate degree nursing students to start the program in August, and 10 additional students for next January." 

Weber State will use the donation to educate 90 new registered nurse graduates over the next five years, and an additional 60 nurses graduating with bachelor degrees.

Other institutions are receiving grants from IHC to increase the number of graduates from their nursing programs:  College of Eastern Utah, BYU, Dixie State College, Salt Lake Community College, Southern Utah University, Westminster College, and Utah Valley State College.  It is expected that the grants will allow more than 600 additional nursing graduates to be produced by Utah colleges and universities over the next five years.

These new donations and programs are in addition to more than $14 million spent annually by IHC in support of medical training programs in Utah.  More than 1,500 students in health-related programs receive education and training at IHC hospitals and clinics each year.

IHC is a charitable, community-owned, nonprofit health care organization based in Salt Lake City that serves the needs of Utah and Idaho residents.  The IHC system includes health insurance plans, hospitals, clinics, and affiliated physicians.  Last year, in more than 148,000 cases, IHC hospitals and associated clinics provided $67 million in charitable assistance.  A central part of IHC's mission is to provide quality medical care to persons from the Intermountain region with a medical need, regardless of ability to pay.

Shelley Conroy, dean, Dumke College of Health Professions
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