Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

CPE grants help colleges address healthcare workforce shortage

August 25, 2022

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The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s Healthcare Workforce Collaborative distributed $8 million in grants to Kentucky’s public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities to help address the healthcare workforce shortage. The grants, funded by an appropriation from the General Assembly, will help the institutions expand their programs and provide student supports to get more frontline healthcare workers trained and into the workforce.

“These grants give our colleges and universities the resources they need to develop their programs to meet the needs of the state, while providing a high-quality education to future healthcare workers,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “We are grateful to the Legislature for providing this funding and to our healthcare and higher education institutions for coming together to address the critical workforce shortage.”

The grants will be used to develop and expand clinical learning programs by:

Strategies include offering flexible evening and weekend courses, awarding college credit to high school students who complete summer programs, sharing staff between healthcare facilities and colleges, apprenticeships and more.

Institutions will also use the grant funding to provide wrap-around services to support students in completing their programs, including transportation and food vouchers, tutoring and peer mentoring and test preparation support.

Additionally, the funds will be used to recruit and retain underrepresented minority students. In Kentucky, 90% of nurses are white. About 4% of nurses are Black, compared to 8% of Kentuckians, and about 1% are Hispanic, compared to 5% of the population.

The institutions’ plans for the grants focus largely on nursing programs due to the nursing shortage crisis in the state. According to state officials, Kentucky is operating 12-20% short of needed nursing staff, and the state is projected to need more than 16,000 additional nurses by 2024. Training for other frontline professionals, including physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, mental health practitioners and medical social workers were also included in the plans.

Kentucky's Healthcare Workforce Collaborative was launched this year to bring together state leaders, policy experts, campus leadership and the healthcare industry to solve Kentucky's healthcare workforce crisis.

Forty-eight healthcare organizations across the Commonwealth are participating in the Healthcare Workforce Collaborative by investing time, staff, equipment and funding. Public schools, area technical centers and government agencies have also joined as partners. The second convening of the collaboration’s advisory group was held Aug. 23.

Last Updated: 8/25/2022