New Grant Aims To Retain Nursing Professionals of Color in Rural Missouri

The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies a one-year $344,804 grant to strengthen the recruitment and retention of African American and Hispanic rural-serving disadvantaged nursing students.

The grant project, “Asset Bundles Create Success (ABCs),” starts July 1 and focuses on students in the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, informally known as the RN-to-BSN program. These students are licensed as registered nurses, but are at risk for not being able to continue to practice in their health care settings unless they earn their BSN degrees. This concern has the potential to further decrease the number of minority RNs in the rural health care sector, intensifying the problem of nursing not reflecting the population it serves.

Hiring health care professionals for rural areas has long been a challenge —specifically for residents of color, especially in Missouri. The state has twice the number of rural residents (37 percent) compared to the national average (19 percent).

“The ABCs project will help increase retention and graduate more under-represented minority RNs to better serve their communities,” said Anita Skarbek, principal grant administrator and RN-BSN program director at the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The grant funding will add 25 new minority students from rural-serving institutions to the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. The funding also will go to prepare students for leadership roles in the reduction of health disparities and into training that improves the cultural competence of faculty and staff.

“This grant confirms our commitment to the RN-BSN workforce whose demographics reflect diversity, and who practice in facilities that serve rural patients,” said Ann Cary, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. “We are pleased to have been awarded this special workforce initiative from HRSA.”