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UA-Little Rock, CHI St. Vincent Partner to Create More Nurses

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and CHI St. Vincent on Thursday announced a three-year, two-part initiative to combat a statewide shortage of nurses.

The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding for a plan that will expand student capacity in the UA-Little Rock Department of Nursing and fill staffing needs at CHI St. Vincent.

Through the "UA-Little Rock/CHI St. Vincent Pathway Program," UA-Little Rock will recruit and educate an average of 40 students per year, after which students will be prepared to obtain their RN license and begin a career at CHI St. Vincent.

The Pathway initiative amounts to an 18-month, accelerated associate of applied science degree program. Graduates will join the nursing staff at CHI St. Vincent for a minimum of 24 months.

The first 40 students will enter the program this fall.

UA-Little Rock plans to add more faculty to its nursing program. To make a nursing degree more affordable, UA-Little Rock and CHI St. Vincent will award $2,500 per semester to each Pathway Program student, covering the cost of the accelerated program.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly half of the RNs in the country will reach traditional retirement age by 2020. With the baby boomers aging and living longer, the demand for nurses is expected to rise between now and 2024. CHI St. Vincent CEO Chad Aduddell cited 700 open nursing jobs in the central Arkansas.