Grant program available to those who become nurse educators

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Nursing schools are doing their best to help fill the huge shortage of nurses nationwide. But there's also a need for nursing instructors. Now, there's an exciting opportunity in Springfield for nurses interested in teaching.

The Mercy- Southwest Baptist University College of Nursing is working to train more nurses than ever before, aiming for 250 a year.

"It's just been within the past year that our goal was to maximize that enrollment in order to keep up with the demands of some of our local hospitals," says Dr. Kezia Lilly, dean of the college of nursing and health sciences.

Nursing student Julie Bethurem says, "I've always just been very passionate about helping people, and just the medical field in general, it's just very interesting to me, and I just love science and how the human body works."

She wants to work as a registered nurse in a hospital, likely in pediatrics or labor and delivery. "There's tons of jobs out there," says Bethurem.

Right now, there are about 120 nursing jobs open at Mercy, and along with the demand for more nurses comes the need for more instructors to train them. Kellie Soles, a nursing instructor at Mercy, says, "I've been a nurse for quite some time, and I've always loved having students with me."

Kellie just graduated from the nurse educator program at the Mercy/SBU college of nursing. "If anybody's even pondering it, I would highly recommend the program at SBU. It's been great. It's really equipped me for doing what I do now," says Soles.

But now, students in the Mercy/SBU program will have a chance at part of a $230,000 grant. The federal funding will reimburse up to 85 percent of their students loans if they become a full time nurse educator. "I would have liked to save the money, so it's kind of bittersweet. It makes me almost want to do it again, almost," says Soles.

"It's a great opportunity no matter how you look at it," says Rick Leroux, a clinical instructor for the college of nursing.

It comes as nursing educators will soon be in even higher demand. "Currently, the average age amongst nurse educators in the nation is around 56, so a large portion of the nurse educators are going to be retiring," says Lilly. "So it's important for us to be proactive in promoting furthering education amongst all nurses."

The financial aid option will be available beginning this Fall, for students in the master of science in nursing education program.


News Release:

SBU receives grant funding that will help address nursing shortage in southwest Missouri

Students in MSN nursing educator program have a new financial aid option

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University has received a $230,000 grant that will help address the area’s nursing shortage by providing a new financial aid option for some students at SBU’s Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Springfield.

The Nurse Faculty Loan Program provides for loan forgiveness of up to 85 percent during a four-year period after graduation if the student becomes a full-time nurse faculty at any accredited university in the United States. These loans are available to students enrolled full-time or part-time in the master of science in nursing education program.

“The demand for registered nurses is expected to increase 13 percent in the Ozarks region, demanding an immediate increase of nurse educators,” said Dr. Kezia Lilly, dean of the college of nursing and health sciences.

According to the Missouri Hospital Association’s 2015 Workforce Report, hospitals in the Springfield area need to hire a minimum of 117 nurses each year for the next seven years to keep up with the shortage and demand.

“In order to meet the supply and demand of local hospitals, we are looking to maximize our annual enrollment in our associate of science in nursing program,” Lilly said. “Increasing enrollment requires additional educators. We believe this grant will help to increase the immediate need of nurse educators.”

The financial aid can be used by the student to offset a portion of the cost of tuition, books and fees. Awards may be renewable for a maximum of three years, but this is contingent upon ongoing federal funding for student aid and therefore subject to change.

SBU is one of two universities in Missouri and the only university in southwest Missouri to receive the grant.

“It is a great honor to be selected for this grant funding that will have a positive effect on healthcare throughout the entire southwest Missouri region,” said Dr. C. Pat Taylor, SBU president. “Nursing is a field that continues to demand more graduates. With this grant funding, nurse education will be a more attractive career choice for nurses who really have a passion for educating others to enter nursing.”

The grant was awarded by the federal Health Resources and Service Administration for the 2016-17 academic year and is funded by the Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions.

For additional information please contact Dr. Kezia Lilly, NFLP Program Administrator, at (417) 820-6422 or

Note: This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number E01HP30341, Nurse Faculty Loan Program, for $230,000. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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