The purpose of this project is to develop and implement an incremental, accelerated Licensed Practical Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (LPN-to-BSN) pathway to improve the diversity of the RN workforce in medically underserved areas of Kentucky. The objectives are to:? 1) Develop and implement an incremental, accelerated LPN-to-BSN educational pathway to prepare LPNs for success on the NCLEX-RN© and gainful employment post-graduation.? 2) Increase the diversity of the RN workforce in medically underserved areas in Kentucky.? 3) Grow the number of qualified diverse nursing faculty in Kentucky.? 4) Expand academic-clinical partnerships in medically underserved areas.? This grant will fund the: (1) creation of an incremental, accelerated LPN-to-BSN pathway, (2) enhancement of the LPN-to-BSN curriculum, (3) recruitment and retention of diverse LPN-to-BSN students and nursing faculty, and (4) financial, academic, and social support for LPN-to-BSN pathway students. The program is a collaborative effort between the University of Louisville School of Nursing (ULSON) and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and will align curricula of the established LPN-to-RN bridge program and the RN-to-BSN program to create an LPN-to-BSN pathway. Sites: The project focus areas are: (1) medically underserved counties in North Central Kentucky, (2) rural Southeastern Kentucky counties served by Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, and (3) rural Western Kentucky counties served by Owensboro Health, Inc. Need: The US is projected to have a shortage of nearly 100,000 RNs by 2025, with rural areas projected to have a larger shortage. Despite this need, enrollment in Kentucky’s ADN and BSN programs has declined since 2019 with an anticipated reduction of new RNs entering the workforce. However, the number of students pursuing LPN education is increasing, indicating interest in nursing, but also the desire for expedited workforce entry.
RNs educated at the baccalaureate level are best prepared to provide safe and effective care, especially in community settings. To prepare the RN workforce to meet the complex health needs of Kentucky, equal access to RN training programs throughout the state is paramount. This is especially crucial in rural settings, where there is limited access to BSN programs. We will offer an accelerated LPN-to-BSN pathway in rural, underserved areas and will address the academic, social, and financial barriers to student success with a holistic support program. To ensure graduates are prepared to provide care for diverse patient populations, the curriculum will focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion through infusing principles of social determinants of health (SDOH), health equity, and health literacy throughout the BSN pathway. Methodology: We will develop recruitment materials that specifically focus on prospective students who are diverse or are from underserved communities. The application process will be reviewed and revised to be more holistic. Faculty will be trained to support culturally and linguistically diverse students. A SDOH curriculum spanning the full program length will move students from foundational knowledge to application. The SON’s strong relationships with clinical partners will provide for recruitment of diverse students and faculty and increased clinical placement opportunities in rural and medically underserved areas. Outcomes measures include but are not limited to: number of diverse students and new faculty; program completion rate; student experience with medically underserved populations, and percentage of graduates working in medically underserved areas. We request funding preference, “Qualification 2: Substantially benefit underserved populations,” as clinical experiences will occur at sites designated as medically underserved areas.