The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded the Western University of Health Sciences College of Graduate Nursing $176,610 for the National Faculty Loan Program (NFLP).

Funds from the award will be used to prepare as many as 15 future nurse educators enrolled in the College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) Doctor of Nursing Practice program. This is the ninth year that HRSA has provided support to CGN.

“California, like many of the other states in the nation, has many schools that experience a lack of qualified faculty. These shortages mean that nursing programs are not able to admit all qualified students,” said CGN Dean Mary Lopez, PhD, MSN, RN. “Turning away nursing students contributes to the RN shortage. In fact, data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning suggests that 21 percent of California’s population lives in an RN shortage area. In addition, more than 35 percent of faculty are approaching retirement age.”

Data from the Board of Registered Nurses affirm the shortage with an 8.2 percent vacancy rate. Eighty-four percent of nursing faculty in California have less than a doctoral degree, said CGN Professor Rodney Hicks, PhD, APRN, FAANP, FAAN, who wrote the grant and serves as project director.

NFLP participants are eligible to retire up to 85 percent of the award by agreeing to teach for at least four years after completion of the program in accredited schools of nursing.

Lopez noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2014-2024 lists Registered Nursing (RN) among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2024. The College of Graduate Nursing continues to receive funding to increase the number of nursing faculty and address the professional nurse shortage, she said.