Washington State University Tri-Cities and Chiawana High School in Pasco will benefit from a $1 million federal grant given to WSU's nursing school.
The university's College of Nursing will use the money to expand a program aimed at diversifying the nursing work force in Eastern Washington by providing more academic and mentoring to high school and college students, a news release said.
Hundreds of students in the Tri-Cities, Yakima and Spokane have already been served by a similar grant the university received three years ago.
"More students are starting to believe nursing really is for them," Robert Garza, a student services manager at the Richland campus, told the Herald.
The U.S. Health Resources Service Administration is providing the grant. University officials said it's critical to extend more help to the state's rural areas, which have high populations of Hispanic and Native American students facing more academic and financial hurdles.
"We know that if we can get these students through school to get their (nursing) degrees that many eventually return to work in their home communities," said associate nursing professor Janet Katz in a release.
Grandview High School will join Chiawana as new schools being served in the program. Students at Pasco High, Delta High schools and Yakima's Davis High School are already receiving services.
Pre-nursing students on WSU's Richland campus, Columbia Basin College, Yakima Valley Community College and Heritage University in Toppenish are also eligible for support.
"This type of mentoring and a pre-college connection to a support network is always beneficial to students who are on, or even exploring the possibilities of, a career path in nursing," said Pasco Assistant Superintendent Glenda Cloud in a statement to the Herald. "We value our continued partnership with WSU-Tri Cities."
Garza said that even though WSU's nursing school is running the program, he and others involved aren't meant to convince students to study at Pullman, Richland or Spokane.
"We've really hit the ground running making sure students just get into programs," he said.
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