New Lincoln nursing building a key to addressing shortage

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | January 19, 2012

The Lincoln Division of the UNMC College of Nursing turns away large numbers of qualified applicants each year because of inadequate facilities.

That would change with the construction of a new facility on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus just north of the UNMC College of Dentistry and east of the Maxwell Arboretum.

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This graphic shows the site of the proposed new College of Nursing building in Lincoln.
The Lincoln Division is currently housed in leased space in downtown Lincoln near bars, retail and other businesses.

The proposal is part of the University of Nebraska's "Building a Healthier Nebraska" initiative, which seeks a $91 million investment from the state's cash reserve fund to support capital projects in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney.

Benefits beyond Lincoln

"A new building is vital to the future growth of the college in the Lincoln area, and to continuing our commitment to easing the nursing shortage in Nebraska," said Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. "Not only will the proposed facility add state-of-the-art classrooms, learning technology, conference and seminar spaces, but it also will allow us to educate more nurses at baccalaureate and graduate degree levels.

"In Lincoln, we currently turn away up to 60 percent of qualified applicants who would improve health care not only in the Capital City, but also in Falls City, Beatrice, Crete, Seward and other surrounding communities."

Request for funding

University of Nebraska leaders have requested $17 million in state funds to build the facility, which would increase space for teaching, research and administration.

About half of the Lincoln faculty are Ph.D.-prepared, active researchers who bring in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations. Inadequate space limits research activities in the leased facility.

The proximity to the College of Dentistry would allow for shared classroom and auditorium space, as well as instructional and communication technology and IT personnel.

The greatest need

Nebraska's shortage of registered nurses is 9 percent and expected to grow to 20 percent by 2020, with rural areas hardest hit. A nationwide faculty shortage contributes to the nursing shortage and will worsen as many are approaching retirement age.

With a new facility, annual enrollment would grow from approximately 250 students to roughly 314 by 2020, Dr. Sebastian said. Expansion would focus on the Lincoln area's greatest need, which is for master's and doctorally-prepared nurses to take roles in advanced clinical specialization and as educators in the area's nursing education programs.

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