Partnership with NELA Healthcare Alliance benefits Nursing program

Apr 13, 2021 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Partnerships, Students

Over the last three years, the Northeast Louisiana Healthcare Alliance has provided support to healthcare facilities within 11 parishes in the region so they are able to grow and find stability. Their work funding programs such as Louisiana Tech University’s Nursing program has helped alleviate an acute shortage of healthcare professionals by funding programs across the state so they are able to provide qualified, successful nurses, doctors, or lab techs. 

Dr. Donna Hood, Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Applied and Natural Sciences, said the grants provided to the Louisiana Tech Nursing program through the alliance provided more opportunities for students to gain a broader perspective on their field.

“We were in a challenging spot,” Hood said. “There was a need for nurses, and students wanted to be in our program, but they were being turned away.  We were not sure how we could admit more students.”

The solution to this challenge was to hire more adjunct clinical faculty. These nurses have master’s or doctoral degrees. They are often nurse practitioners or have retired from healthcare, and their time in Louisiana Tech’s classrooms allows the Nursing program to admit more clinical students. Grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield and LivingWell in conjunction with the NELA Healthcare Alliance made it possible to hire them. 

“The funding provided allowed us to hire these adjunct faculty which allowed us at Louisiana Tech to admit an extra 20 nursing students per year for three years,” Hood said. “At this point, we have admitted an additional 50 nursing students with 10 more to come in the fall.”

Nursing students who would not have received the opportunity are now being given the chance to take part in Louisiana Tech’s competitive program. 

Karen Roller, a Nursing student admitted in 2019, said she is thankful for the opportunity that she has to be a non-traditional student at Tech.

“I am very thankful for the grant that allowed them the extra seats,” Roller said. “It gives the program a way to diversify and look at the heart of the student, regardless of their past grades or experience.”

Roller never thought she would have the opportunity to return to the classroom. With two children in school, it did not seem possible to start from scratch and go back to college. Louisiana Tech’s Nursing program allowed her to pursue her dream of being a nurse while also being a supportive mother. 

“I have tried to set a good example for my girls,” Roller said. “I am trying to leave a Tech legacy to them!”

Louisiana Tech’s Nursing program was recognized by the Louisiana Nurse Foundation as the 2017 Nursing School of the Year for Undergraduate Programs. Students who graduate from the two-year program are often offered job opportunities before they graduate. 

“I have been working at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe as a nurse tech, and other nurses have expressed how well prepared Tech students are,” Roller said. “I applied for a position and have already received an offer to work in the ICU at Glenwood when I graduate. That would not have happened without my experience at Louisiana Tech.”

Through the grants provided by the NELA Healthcare Alliance, Louisiana Tech’s Nursing program has the opportunity to create a more diverse program that provides quality nurses into this demanding field. 

“This is what can be accomplished when we work together with the same goal of raising the level of healthcare that is offered across the state,” Hood said.