The United States Health Resources and Services Administration gifted a $2.2 million grant to Montana State University (MSU) to recruit and retain more Alaska Native and American Indian nurses.
Using the four-year Nursing Workforce Diversity grant, 15 American Indian and Alaska Native nursing students enrolled in MSU College of Nursing’s Caring for Our Own Program (CO-OP) will receive scholarship funding. CO-OP—which currently enrolls 72 students—was established in 1999 to offer tutoring, advising and financial aid assistance to nursing students, MSU reported.
Nationally, Alaska Native and American Indian nurses make up 1.2% of the nursing workforce. In Montana, 3.2% of the nursing workforce are American Indian or Alaska Native despite American Indians representing 6.5% of the state’s population, according to MSU.
“Diversifying the workforce improves health outcomes and also helps improve socioeconomic status in rural communities,” said Dr. Laura Larsson, CO-OP program director and a nursing professor at MSU. “Nursing careers are well-paying jobs. We think the CO-OP program tackles the issues of rural isolation, health and poverty all at once.”