This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
School of Nursing Receives
$1.3 Million Grant
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: Sept. 8, 1998

EAU CLAIRE — A program designed to assist American Indians earn nursing degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will continue at least another five years thanks to an Indian Health Service grant.
The first year of the five-year grant — which will run from 1998-2003 — awarded UW-Eau Claire's School of Nursing $263,000. The grant will total about $1.3 million over five years.
"I'm feeling really good about this grant and the results of the previous grant," said Marge Bottoms, director of the American Indian nursing project. "Our numbers were healthy the last time around and the comments we heard from students who finished the program were very positive."
The IHS monies will be used to continue and expand a 5-year-old program that offers a baccalaureate nursing education opportunity to students from Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College and those who come to UW-Eau Claire for a nursing major. The expansion grant also offers RN to BSN and master's level nurse practitioner programs for Native American students. UW-Eau Claire was one of seven institutions nationwide to receive the IHS grants.
"The School of Nursing has worked hard to form a partnership and relationship with Lac Courte Oreilles," said Dr. Susan Johnson, associate dean of nursing. "We have learned a lot about how to work with Native American students to help them become nurses but we still have more to learn."
While she was pleased with the success of the program in its first five years, Bottoms said she expects even greater things during the next five years. Much of the work to build the program has been done, and there are now graduates of the programs working in the communities in which UW-Eau Claire will be recruiting future participants, Bottoms said.
The grant continues to be important as most communities become more diverse but health care professionals do not, Johnson said. "There is a national need to increase the numbers of health care professionals from diverse backgrounds," she said. "As nursing educators, it's important that we work on that issue."
And the program is benefiting the campus as a whole by bringing more diverse students to the university, Bottoms said. "More diversity in our students will attract even more diverse students from all backgrounds," she said.
The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in Hayward 3/4 a tribally owned college that offers two-year associate degrees 3/4 teaches pre-nursing courses that are equivalent to pre-nursing courses at UW-Eau Claire. Students enroll concurrently in LCOOCC and UW-Eau Claire, enabling them to use support services offered at both institutions.
The support services are particularly important to these students since the average person participating in the program is a single, 33-year-old mother who earned a GED instead of the traditional high school diploma, Bottoms said. For many, the scholarships offered through the program 3/4 $118,000 worth of scholarships in 1998 3/4 is the only way that they could enroll.
"The participants do not fit the typical student profile," Bottoms said. "There is a great cultural change for them when they come into a highly competitive nursing program. It's important that services are in place to help them along the way."
In spring 1998, 26 American Indian students were enrolled in UW-Eau Claire nursing programs. In 1991, the year before the program began, no American Indian students were enrolled in nursing. Six American Indian students have graduated from the baccalaureate program, two master's level American Indian students graduated since the program began, and six American Indian students entered their final senior semester in the fall of 1998.
Bottoms said all of the program participants who were admitted to the School of Nursing have graduated or are still active students who are moving toward a degree.
Students benefiting from the grant dollars must work in an under-served community for a designated period of time, Johnson said. That requirement means that the students receiving this help will directly help under-served communities, she said.
In addition, UW-Eau Claire's faculty benefit because they learn to better understand Native American culture and how to better work with Native American students, she said.
"It's not a matter of getting these students in and out of college," Johnson said. "And it's not just a matter of how do we help educate Native American nurses. But it's also what can we learn from the Native American culture in terms of health and healing."

UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: Sept. 16, 1998