The grant will enable the University of Arizona College of Nursing’s Master of Science in Nursing program to address Arizona's dire nurse shortage.
Nearly 160 students at the University of Arizona College of Nursing will be able to accelerate completion of their studies thanks to a share of $43.1 million in grants awarded by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to five Arizona nursing programs.
The UArizona College of Nursing will use the funding, which was designed to address the state’s nursing shortage, to create 158 scholarships to cover the cost of tuition and fees incurred by students while completing the college’s graduate-level Master of Science in Nursing – Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MS-MEPN) program. The MS-MEPN program helps educate and train new Wildcat nurses, who are desperately needed to fill an anticipated nursing shortage of almost 1 million nurses by 2030.
“We are thrilled at the additional support we are receiving from the State of Arizona,” said College of Nursing Interim Dean Kathleen Insel, PhD, RN. “These scholarships to our MS-MEPN program students will not only help address the ongoing nursing shortage, but also allow bachelor-prepared students in other fields to re-career as nurses, starting an exciting new career in a highly rewarding and in-demand field. It really is a win-win for the state, the students and the citizens of Arizona.”
The ADHS provided the grant for scholarships to be used in programs designed to allow students to complete entry-level nursing degrees in 12 to 18 months. Both in-state and out-of-state residents are eligible for a full scholarship. Recipients must agree to practice nursing in Arizona for at least four years upon completion of their degrees. The funding is made possible by HB 2863, approved by the Arizona State Legislature in 2022.
The MS-MEPN program is a four-semester, highly accelerated generalist master’s program tailor-made for students holding university degrees in other fields who want to become registered nurses.
“We look forward to implementing the program scholarships soon with our MEPN accelerated nursing program to expand the nursing workforce in Arizona,” said Connie Miller, DNP, RNC-OB, CNE, principal investigator for the ADHS grant and the division chair responsible for all prelicensure programs at the College of Nursing. “Master's level education strengthens the workforce by enabling nurses to lead health care teams to improve patient and population health outcomes in the state of Arizona. These nurse leaders will provide excellent, evidence-based nursing care and potentially use their graduate education as future faculty members to teach the next generation of nurses.”
The MS-MEPN program launched in 2011 as Arizona’s first accelerated master’s entry program and has since graduated 1,105 students. The college will offer 96 MS-MEPN seats each semester – fall, spring and summer – 48 in Tucson and 48 in Gilbert, Arizona. Previously, a total of 130 students were admitted once a year. The next cohort starts in May, and applications are opening soon for those interested in starting in August.
The College of Nursing has been preparing to increase enrollments due to the current shortage of nurses to meet the needs of Arizona residents and the anticipated increased need for nurses in the state. The college’s Gilbert location recently doubled in size from 17,500 square feet to a total of 35,000 square feet of space in the University Building. This space will accommodate the increased number of MEPN students who will be enrolled every semester.
For more information about the scholarships or to learn more about qualifying, contact the College of Nursing Office of Student and Academic Affairs.