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SDSU awarded grant to address nursing shortage

South Dakota State University's College of Nursing has been awarded a three-year grant to help address the growing shortage of nurses in rural areas. 

The grant is in partnership with one of South Dakota's largest health care systems, Avera Health, and comes by way of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The full grant amount totals more than $1 million. 

Theresa Garren-Grubbs, a clinical assistant professor, will serve as the education project director for SDSU in the partnership. 

Theresa Garren-Grubbs
Theresa Garren-Grubbs, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing, will serve as the education project director.

"The goal is really to improve the recruitment and retainment of new nurses in rural health care settings," Garren-Grubbs said. "We are also hoping to identify students who are interested in rural health and provide them with targeted experiences in this setting."

Many rural states—including South Dakota—are currently experiencing a nursing shortage. The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant part in that, but the large number of nursing graduates leaving the state has also been a contributing factor. HRSA's Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention-Registered Nurse Training Program has made it a primary objective to address these issues by providing funding to areas of need.

The SDSU-Avera Health collaborative project, "PREPARE-RNS: Partnering to Address the Critical Nursing Shortage in South Dakota," will prepare BSNs and RNs for careers in rural acute-care critical access hospitals by providing education in cultural awareness, social determinants of health, health equity and health literacy. 
“The nursing shortage we’re seeing is nothing short of historic. Responding to this crisis requires time, innovation and collaboration across several sectors,” said Karna Pfeffer, director of clinical excellence and education at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre and project director for the PREPARE-RNS grant, in a press release. “We are grateful for the recognition of this issue at the federal level and the grant funding to address these issues in creative ways.”

Through this project, SDSU and Avera Health will have the opportunity to train, recruit and retain nursing staff by removing barriers and perceptions about practicing in a rural setting.