Newswise — INDIANAPOLIS -- Over the next three years, the Indiana University School of Nursing at IUPUI plans to increase undergraduate student enrollment by 50%, thanks to a $16 million gift from Indiana University Health. The gift will support the infrastructure necessary to enroll more nursing students, including faculty and staff recruitment and education; expansion of classroom, lab and simulation space; and student support services.

"This tremendous gift from IU Health recognizes Indiana University's leadership in educating professional nurses who will enhance the quality of health care," IU President Pamela Whitten said. "I look forward to seeing how this gift will expand our program, and how our nursing graduates will help improve health in Indiana and beyond."

Indiana has faced a nursing shortage in recent years, exacerbated by a shortage of nursing faculty and the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support the enrollment increase required to address this need, the school will hire more full-time faculty and create a robust one-year mentoring program to help first-time educators, including practicing nurses, transition to the classroom.

"We know that one of the most beneficial ways Indiana University can improve health outcomes in Indiana is to produce more nursing graduates that will focus on the health of the people of the state," IU School of Nursing Dean Robin Newhouse said. "Growing our program by 50% is not a simple task, but one that the IU School of Nursing is committed to seeing through to positively impact our state."

Media kit: Access video interview with Newhouse and photos of IU nursing students

To quickly plan for logistical challenges and the infrastructure necessary to accommodate such an expansion, Newhouse created nine internal working groups at the start of the spring semester. These groups of IU School of Nursing faculty, staff and students were charged with developing implementation plans by the end of the semester.

"The implementation time for a program expansion and gift of this size was very ambitious, but our success speaks to the excitement by which our faculty and staff embraced the opportunity within the school and quickly organized into nine working groups to begin the planning," Newhouse said. "We are confident that the undergraduate program expansion will result in tremendous dividends for our school beyond the undergraduate program, campus and community."

As part of the partnership, IU Health also will ensure that new IU nursing students qualifying for clinical rotation are guaranteed placement at an IU Health facility.

"These funds to one of our most important health care partners will help accelerate our strategy to make Indiana a healthier state," said Dennis Murphy, president and CEO of IU Health. "Nurses have played a crucial role in our hospitals caring for patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It's evident now more than ever that we must invest in the next generation of health care providers and provide them with rewarding professional opportunities."

Additionally, a shared goal for both the school and the hospital system is to recruit more diverse students who better represent the Indiana population.

The $16 million gift to the IU School of Nursing is the first announcement of funds designated from IU Health's recent $416 million contribution to Indiana University. In addition to helping IU expand nursing enrollment, the funds will be used to underwrite cutting-edge health research and initiatives and recruit more world-class researchers and clinicians.

The IU School of Nursing has over 22,000 alumni worldwide and has been educating nurses for over 100 years, offering bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in nursing. It is the only nursing school in Indiana ranked among the top 30 nursing schools by U.S. News and World Report, and the only school in the state with two centers of excellence in nursing education as designated by the National League for Nursing.