BCTC Helping to Cure Nursing Shortage with the HealthWay Initiative

LEXINGTON, KY (September 19, 2006) Bluegrass Community amp; Technical College (BCTC) announced the formation of the HealthWay Initiative: Developing Healthy Communities, at a press conference at its Leestown Campus location in Lexington. These new initiatives are made possible through a Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board grant and the partnerships of acute and long term care institutions in the Bluegrass Area Development District (ADD). The Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board has become involved as part of its mission to enhance the skills of the regions workforce, according to Director Lori Collins.

Beginning this fall, BCTC will receive a five year allocation of $200,000 per year for five years from the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board. The funds will be used to help increase the number of educated nurses going into the workforce in Kentucky. Partners in the program include Central Baptist Hospital, Cardinal Hill Hospital, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital, Homestead Nursing Center and Pine Meadows Nursing Home. Working together, BCTC plans to educate 125 nursing healthcare professionals in their nursing assistant, practical nursing and associate degree in nursing programs (Registered nursing-RN). This increase will assist in addressing the critical need for more health care professionals.

The growing health care crisis in Kentucky and the United States is well documented and according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the U.S. will experience a 20 percent shortage in the number of nurses needed in the health care system by 2020. In Kentucky, a 2002 hospital survey by the Kentucky Hospital Association found that an estimated 1,750 full-time jobs for RNs are currently vacant and that the number of associate degree nurses had decreased since the 1990s. Coupled with a growing older popular, the need for nursing professionals is now reaching a critical point. There is a major crisis brewing in health care said Dr. Jim Kerley, CEO/President of Bluegrass Community amp; Technical College. The wave of the future will be more collaboration between the community, hospitals, educators and other groups. The HealthWay Initiative is a very proactive approach that would not have happened without the vision of our nursing program and community involvement said Kerley.

Another aspect of the initiative is that a portion of the funding will be utilized to recruit workers who have lost jobs due to foreign trade or competition. Dr. Carolyn Lewis, Assistant Dean of Nursing at BCTC states that she is committed to serving the needs of our communities and sees this program as an action plan to address the needs of the health care system as well as the individual students who choose to participate. By 2020, health care will be diminished due to a lack of nurses, unless we work together now. Working together means being innovative and sharing resources at area health facilities in order to accommodate a larger nursing student population, this translates to healthier individuals, families and communities said Lewis.

In the 2004-2005 school year, BCTC had 600 applicants to its nursing program and the capacity to accept only 115. The HealthWay Initiative will substantially increase the number of students that can be educated to work in the healthcare field. Additionally, BCTC is putting an action plan into place which will address the needs of many students who, due to family and work obligations, can only attend classes in the evenings and on weekends. Lewis further states, We must meet the needs of the non-traditional students that choose nursing as a profession. BCTC is committed to working with our partners in the HealthWay Initiative in paving the way for better health care in the state of Kentucky and as a national model for other health care professionals throughout the United States.