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Vermont State Colleges Awarded Grant From U.S. Department Of Commerce to Expand Nursing Capacity in the Northeast Kingdom

Northern Vermont University, Vermont Technical College, NVRH Partnership Strengthens Nursing Education in Northern Region of Vermont

Today, Northern Vermont University-Lyndon and Vermont Technical College announced that a $240,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will expand nursing capacity in the Northeast Kingdom. The funding will expand Vermont Technical College’s in-demand existing nursing program on the NVU-Lyndon campus, creating a direct pathway for students to complete their degree from start to finish in the NVU-Lyndon community. NVU’s Vail Hall will be transformed into the Clinical Nursing Education Center complete with a nursing instruction classroom and skills and simulation lab spaces. Vermont’s federal delegation joined NVU and Vermont Tech for this exciting announcement. The Vermont Community Foundation and a very generous gift from NVU-Lyndon Alum Christian Mason, class of 1980, met the matching gift requirement for this grant.

“Addressing Vermont’s nursing workforce challenge requires increasing opportunities for Vermonters to pursue careers in nursing,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “This EDA grant is doing just that by expanding in-person nursing education into the Northeast Kingdom and increasing the number of nurses graduating from the program. I offer my sincere congratulations to the leadership and all the program staff of Vermont Technical College and Northern Vermont University for taking this important step toward strengthening nursing education in Vermont.”

The center will provide students with a simulation lab, which is a realistic-looking clinical location to practice, research, learn and work toward success in their nursing studies. This is a public-private partnership between NVU-Lyndon, Vermont Technical College and Northern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH). With the new lab spaces, the direct pathway from NVU-Lyndon to Vermont Tech will become a solid reality. Nursing students will have guaranteed seats in the Vermont Tech program once they satisfactorily fulfill the requirements, apply and are accepted.

“The new nursing facility is a huge step forward for increased access in the Northeast Kingdom to degrees in critical occupations such as nursing. It underscores the importance of NVU’s campuses to our rural communities and industries that serve Vermonters,” said NVU interim President Dr. John W. Mills. “This grant and the direct pathway degree program provide us additional capacity to educate highly skilled nurses. This workforce is essential to providing high quality health care immediately and will strengthen the nursing career pipeline for years to come.”

“We are excited at the opportunity to expand our existing nursing program at NVU-Lyndon,” commented Patricia Moulton, Vermont Tech President. “This expansion enhances our existing partnerships with NVRH and NVU and enables additional pathways. We will be able to enroll up to 60 additional nursing students with in the next three years, which will clearly benefit NVRH and other health care partners in the region,” added Moulton.

According to the Vermont Board of Nursing, the number of new Registered Nurses licensed in the state of Vermont declined 69 percent from 2007 to 2014 and in 2018, the Vermont Talent Pipeline forecast a need for 900 skilled nurses in Vermont per year, while in 2019 only 421 completed LPN and RN licensure programs.

“We owe our students high-quality and affordable nursing education — and we owe all Vermonters high quality and affordable health care,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Which is why it’s truly great news that this federal grant will allow VTC to expand their nursing program and establish a new clinical nursing education center on the NVU-Lyndon campus. While there is much more work to be done to address our country’s massive health care workforce shortage, this project is an important example of how we can grow the workforce of the future. I look forward to visiting the program and seeing its success in the Northeast Kingdom.”

The 1,500 square foot clinical nursing education center will expand existing Vermont Tech labs and NVU classrooms. The funds further enable and expand the RN education pathway into a rural region with critical nursing shortages.

NVRH CEO Shawn Tester echoed the words of Sen. Sanders, “This newly expanded program comes at a time when we, like most health care providers, are facing dire skilled worker shortages. This program will not only help provide our region’s health care facilities with skilled workers; it will also provide hundreds of local students the opportunity to gain the skills needed for rewarding careers in the health care field.” Tester is also a member of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees.

The project is a true example of public-private collaboration. The facility will be in Lyndon; Vermont Technical College will deliver the nursing certificate and degree programs just like those offered at other locations around the state, and NVRH will donate hospital beds and other equipment to the skills and simulation lab spaces. As a regional resource, the expanded pathway has the potential to support networking and coordination with neighboring high schools and reach out to continuing learners and career changers, further strengthening the nursing talent pipeline to the secondary education level.

“We are especially excited about this pathway between NVU and Vermont Tech as we continue our unification to Vermont State University,” notes VSCS Chancellor Sophie Zdatny. “This is the perfect example of the opportunities we have for collaborative programming between our campuses. In this way, we are better serving Vermont, Vermont employers, and the students.”

“Now, more than ever, we must invest in strengthening our nursing education workforce,” commented Rep. Peter Welch. “Through this grant, NVU and VTC will be able to fully train more nurses right here at home, helping folks stay in their communities and give back to Vermont. Nurses continue to do incredible work on the frontlines of this pandemic, caring for our loved ones in the face of an unprecedented challenge. The pandemic has highlighted the critical need to invest in the training pipeline to meet our state’s provider needs in the short and long-term. This grant will make our health care system more resilient. And that’s good for everyone, from Vermont’s nursing students to the patients who rely on them. I’m thrilled that NVU and VTC can lead the way in expanding nursing education here in the Northeast Kingdom, and I’ll keep pushing Washington for more funding to help develop our local workforce in Vermont.”

Vermont Tech currently offers its one-year practical nursing certificate program and two-year associate degree in nursing program at NVU-Lyndon and in Newport, as well as having a dedicated clinical site in the Littleton, NH area in addition to multiple locations around Vermont. Vermont Tech’s Bachelor of Science in nursing program is available online.