Lincoln Land Community College and Memorial Health System announced yesterday a major nurses training partnership that will work to combat Illinois’ qualified nurse’s shortage and keep people in West Central Illinois. With support from MHS, LLCC will admit 90 additional students per year to the college’s associate degree nursing program, for a total of 215 new nursing students annually. LLCC President Dr. Charlotte Warren, who began her career as a nurse, says that the college will see a massive expansion in its Nurse Training Department. MHS will provide approximately $6.1 million in funding to allow LLCC to renovate the west wing of Montgomery Hall on the LLCC campus. Dr. Warren says it will ultimately help the community at large. “This is really benefiting our community. In the process, the college is able to construct, redesign, and replace 12,000 square feet of space that will be used to put in new simulation labs, clinical skills labs – all the kinds of things you need when you have a nursing education program. We do have some of those [things], but not what we would like and certainly not enough for 90 additional students. This will allow us to grow that program and have those kinds of facilities as well as provide some support for the additional support over the next 5 years for the additional staff, faculty, advisors, tutors, and people that we used to assist those students.”
Warren says scholarships will also be available out of the funding to encourage students to enroll to help fill the state’s nursing shortage. “There is several scholarships that are a part of that [money we are receiving], and it will be used specifically for people who are going into the RN program. Obviously, the hospitals including Memorial, have programs for their employees where they provide financial support for some of these programs already whether it be CNA, medical assisting, any of those programs. This one is sticking specifically with nursing because of the severe shortage. With 21,000 vacancies in our state and that number going to grow by retirement and attrition by 5-30% over the next few years, there are a lot of holes to fill.”
Dr. Scott Boston, CEO of Passavant Area Hospital – a hospital in MHS, says that Passavant hopes to eventually receive RN’s from the expanded program from Lincoln Land Community College. “Currently what we have set up with Lincoln Land is through their LPN training here in Jacksonville. LPN’s do come out here to Passavant and train a couple of days a week to get their clinical experiences. A LPN would then have the opportunity to go on and get their RN if they continue their education to get further training and certification. Right now, we’re not training RN’s but we are training LPN’s. In the future, with this expansion of the RN program at Lincoln Land, there may be the possibility of training registered nurses in the future at Passavant.”
Dr. Boston says that Passavant hopes to enjoy the larger recruitment pool to retain more people to live and work locally. He said that studies have shown that where healthcare professionals train, they usually come back to get hired and stay to live and work in their community.
Initial phases of design and planning are underway with construction beginning at Montgomery Hall in Springfield to follow and anticipated occupancy in May 2021. LLCC certification rates and program is rated to have completion rates far above national averages and is one of the top community college programs in the state.