In an attempt to reduce the shortage of qualified Nurses in the Central Peninsula, several community stakeholder groups that included healthcare providers, educators, and community support organizations, came together recently to sponsor an event to raise money for student nurse scholarships. No one group can solve these workforce issues alone, said Dennis Murray, administrator at Heritage Place in Soldotna. According to Murray partnerships, collaborations and funding are the keys to growing our own nurses locally.
The gala event held November 15th at the Kenai Senior Center raised over $11,000 that will go toward a scholarship/revolving loan fund, "The hope is that the money will become an on-going self-supporting fund," said Murray. There is presently a class of 13 local students seeking a registered nurses credential and an associate's degree in a cooperative curriculum between Kenai Peninsula College and Weber State. Those students expect to graduate in May, "One fund raiser certainly is not a quick fix for the critical nursing shortage, but the willingness of the community to support on going efforts is encouraging," added Murray. The local collaborators are shooting for a new class in partnership with Weber State and the University of Alaska Kachemak Campus in Homer that will start in the fall of 2003. "We're shooting for an overall class of 24 students from Homer, Sitka and Kotzebue and we're proposing another class at the KPC campus for the 2005-'06 years. Meeting the needs for nurses is a daunting task, but we continue to make progress. The recent auction to raise funds for nursing education was a great success," said Murray.
Murray's feelings were shared by many, especially the nursing students, who wanted all the participants to know how encouraging the event was for them, "A special thanks to Larry Van Ray for his super great auctioneer services. He is a great auctioneer and an awesome entertainer," said a student.
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