The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Graduate Nursing nearly $400,000 to assist nurses obtaining their doctoral degrees.

This is the sixth year that HRSA has provided support to the College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) through the National Faculty Loan Program (NFLP). Funds from this 2014-15 award — $396,456, the highest amount ever awarded to WesternU — will be used to prepare nurse educators enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. CGN expects to support as many as 20 DNP students with the award.

“Schools of nursing are turning away qualified students,” said College of Graduate Nursing Founding Dean Karen Hanford, EdD, RN, FNP. “Faculty shortages are expected to exceed the current estimates of 1,358 vacancies in BSN and graduate schools, and are expected to increase due to upcoming faculty retirements.”

“The NFLP program is the only dedicated source of federal funding that prepares future nurse educators. The award provides loan forgiveness for up to 85 percent of the cost of doctoral education when nurses agree to teach for a minimum of four years in an accredited nursing school,” said Rodney Hicks, PhD, RN, FNP, FAANP, FAAN, CGN’s Director of the DNP Program. “Doctorally prepared nurse educators are needed to fill the vacant faculty positions across the many schools of nursing within California,”

The College of Graduate Nursing offers masters and doctoral degrees in nursing, and has about 350 students. The College was the first to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in Southern California, and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Students seeking the DNP degree can complete the program within two years of full-time study, or three years of part-time study. Graduate recently ranked CGN No. 10 in the top 25 nursing schools in the country.