West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program
Program Goals: Retain. Recruit. Expand.
In December 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice committed $48 million to aggressively address West Virginia’s nursing workforce shortage through a multi-pronged plan to attract, train, and retain nurses in the Mountain State. Thanks to several education initiatives included in the West Virginia Nursing Expansion Program, an additional 2,200 nursing students could graduate from the state’s nursing schools over the next four years.
Value nurses already practicing in West Virginia
The Governor’s program will support new care models through education and regulation that lessen the burden on nurses by eliminating non-nursing tasks. In addition, the expansion program will creatively increase nursing ranks by allowing for more externs to fill gaps in nursing assistant care and removing barriers to nursing faculty and advanced practice nurses serving in direct care RN roles. Additionally, the program will provide nurses and their families with the opportunity to take advantage of our beautiful state through a variety of perks.
Recruit nurses into West Virginia
The Governor’s investment will allow for the creation of a statewide incentive program for nurses who move to West Virginia to be employed directly by a West Virginia licensed health care provider organization providing direct care services – including a cash incentive for re-location and a variety of state perks. Additionally, the licensure process for nurses moving to the state will be expedited, and the existing 3RNET Recruiting for Retention Academy will be more fully utilized for nursing recruitment and retention.
Fully fund the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program
The Governor’s program will fully fund the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program, which is administered by the West Virginia Center for Nursing and Higher Education Policy Commission. This program provides RN and LPN students with scholarships after the midpoint of their nursing program in exchange for working in the state after graduation. Currently, nearly 90 percent of scholarship recipients maintain an active West Virginia nursing license after completing their service obligation.
Provide grants to create & expand nursing programs
The Governor’s investment will increase existing capacity at or create new nursing education programs at West Virginia’s public colleges and universities – both baccalaureate institutions and community & technical colleges – and Career Technical Education through the West Virginia Department of Education by providing grants that support LPN and RN programs at all levels. Grants will be awarded to innovative new programs, especially those that speed time to degree completion. The monies will support facility construction, additional faculty salaries, and other resources needed to expand.
Create a Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Program
The Governor’s expansion also creates a new Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Program, which will be administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, that will incentivize master’s- and doctoral-level nurses to pursue careers as instructors at schools of nursing. In this program, nursing faculty would be eligible to receive significant funding in loan repayment toward their college debt after completing two years of service as an instructor.
Centralize applications to nursing programs
The Governor’s program will support the deployment of a centralized nursing program application for public two- and four-year nursing programs. This will allow nursing program applicants to complete one application to apply to multiple schools. This will allow schools that do not fill all of their seats to search for qualified applicants who did not receive previous offers and offer them seats in their programs. Use of a common nursing application has been shown to increase nursing enrollment in other states.