In March 2010, the Maysville Technical and Community College Division of Health Sciences received a Department of Labor grant in excess of 2 million dollars. The grant funded program known as ITRAIN (Increased Training for Regional Advancements in Nursing) is designed to provide dislocated, unemployed and incumbent workers an alternate education pathway to obtain an Associates degree in nursing by attending a nights and weekends program.
Designed to Serve Increasing Health Care Needs in Rural Kentucky
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the shortage of nurses in the United States will grow to more than one million full time Registered Nurses by 2020. It is estimated that only 64% of the projected demand for nurses will be met. The need is particularly acute in rural Kentucky. Kentuckys population is aging faster than most states-by 2025 more than one million Kentucky citizens will have reached or passed their 60th birthday. In addition to an aging population, 90% of the Commonwealths counties are designated as medically underserved. The ITRAIN program was conceived to begin to address the growing need for nurses in rural northeastern Kentucky.
Profiles of the 1st ITRAIN Student Cohort
Forty-seven students enrolled in the ITRAIN program during fall and spring semesters 2010. The majority of the students hailed from the tri-county area of Harrison, Fleming and Mason, but also drew individuals as far south as Fayette County as well as the southern Ohio counties of Adams and Brown. Seventy-eight percent of ITRAIN students received PELL grants, which are typically awarded to individuals whose total family income is below $20,000. The median age of ITRAIN students is 33, with the youngest enrollee being 19 and the most senior being 52. Course work completed during the first year included: maternal newborn nursing, pharmacology, medical surgical nursing and a nursing practicum.
Students received clinical experience by working at local facilities such as regional hospitals, nursing homes and health fairs. Debbie Boone, ITRAIN faculty member, emphasizes how the ITRAIN evening training has provided unique opportunities for her students. We have developed a close knit nursing family, says Boone. The students all pitch in and work together to help each other through projects. Students have shared notes and studies through our study group Facebook page. To increase community awareness, our students assisted with the Brown County General Hospital Health Fair and delivered a presentation on teenage pregnancy for a community pregnancy resource dinner. The first ITRAIN student cohort begins their second year of academic course work August 15, and is expected to graduate in May 2012
State-of-the-art Classroom Simulators
The funding made available through the Department of Labor has enabled nursing faculty to purchase state-of-the-art clinical simulation equipment. In early September 2011, ITRAIN and other nursing faculty will participate in an in-service provided by Gaumard Scientific Company. Gaumard Scientific traces its history to 1946 when its founder, a World War II trauma physician, recognized how polymers used in reconstructive and battlefield surgery could be used to create simulators for health care education. Faculty will study use of birthing and pediatric client simulators, and will incorporate use of these simulators into clinical education for ITRAIN students during the forthcoming academic year. The same academic rigor afforded to students enrolled in the traditional RN day college program is now available to dislocated, unemployed, or incumbent workers on an evening and weekend basis, comments ITRAIN Project Director Deborah Williamson. MCTC graduates of the ITRAIN program will fill voids in service in northeastern Kentuckys health care system, ultimately benefitting families throughout the region. In a time of economic downturn and dismal news, ITRAIN is celebration-worthy!
During the 2012 academic year, ITRAIN project management will offer a variety of supplemental educational programs designed to bolster academic performance, clinical service and ultimately employability. Forthcoming seminars include: teaching cultural competence in health care settings, women's health issues and domestic violence, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, medical Spanish, and other topics identified by the faculty and students. The first seminar is being planned for September and will be conducted by internationally renowned medical anthropologist Dr. Frederick Klaits. Dr. Klaits holds a Ph.D. from John Hopkins University and is the author of Death in a Church of Life: Moral Passion during Botswanas Time of AIDS, University of California Press (2010).
ITRAINs grant partner, TENCO, will continue to offer students case management and supportive services combined with a more intense focus on employment-centered events during the 2011-2012 academic year. One such event, an employability conference, is currently being planned to combine community resources and reach both employers and students entering their professional careers. Job placement for recent RN graduates is central to the success of the ITRAIN project. Placing I-TRAIN graduates into careers in the high-demand, high-growth industry of health care in medically underserved areas of Kentucky is essentially why the grant is in existence, comments Robert Boone from TENCO. The ITRAIN team is going to take every possible step to ensure that our students are placed within the health care sector.
The ITRAIN project runs through February 2013. Recruitment for the second ITRAIN cohort is beginning now. Scholarship monies are available. Students and community partners seeking more information about the ITRAIN project are encouraged to contact Deborah Nolder, Chair of Health Sciences, Deborah Williamson, ITRAIN Project Director, or Robert Boone, ITRAIN Case Manager by calling (606) 759-7141.