IHS awards $1.7 million grant

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PHOENIX – IHS has awarded a $1.7 million, 5-year grant to the ASU College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation to continue the American Indian Students United for Nursing (ASUN) Project. IHS awarded the initial grant for ASUN in 1990. ASU was the only college of nursing to be awarded a grant for a baccalaureate program in a highly competitive application process.

ASUN’s purpose is to support students as well as add to curriculum material and clinical opportunities that focus on American Indian health issues. The ASU College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation provides ASUN students with the best of two worlds: the resources of a large metropolitan university and the closeness of a program dedicated to Native nursing students. Scholarships, which include tuition and living expenses, are available at the baccalaureate level. Post-graduate service is required for all recipients with IHS, increasing the number of nurses providing care to Indian peoples.

Arizona is an ideal location for ASUN since the state has the largest American Indian population of 300,000, representing 21 tribes. ASU has about 1,300 Native enrolled students.

“ASUN has positively impacted many lives as evidenced by the 47 Native American nursing students who have graduated since the program began in 1990,” said Bev Warne, BSN, MS, director of the ASUN project, and a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe in South Dakota. “ASUN graduates have provided a combined total of more than 100 years of nursing care to Indian peoples.”

Stephen Livingston, BES, is Student Success Coordinator of ASUN and an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of the Chippewa Tribe in Minnesota. He assists Warne and is responsible for recruiting, advising and mentoring ASUN students.

Despite the many positive changes in nursing education, IHS projects the shortage of American Indian nurses in the United States to increase dramatically from its current 19 percent in part due to the median age of 47 of RN’s in the nation. Carol Dahozy, IHS nurse consultant for the Phoenix Area said, “We have much more work to do to provide culturally sensitive, effective healthcare for Indian peoples.”

The Arizona Board of Nursing (ABON) lists 559 RN’s as identifying themselves as Natives of the 65,582 active Arizona registered nurses. The total is unofficial since more than 6 percent of active RN’s in Arizona did not declare their ethnicity to ABON.

Warne said the IHS funding is essential for ASUN to continue its efforts to increase the number of American Indians studying nursing at ASU and the number of nurses providing quality care to American Indians.

The College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation at ASU is one of the most diverse and innovative colleges of nursing in the United States. For the 2007-2008 Academic Year, nearly 30 percent of its enrolled students were from minority populations. The college ranks in the top eight percent of 396 graduate nursing programs in the nation, according to the 2008 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings.