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Reducing the Nursing Shortage

Trellis Foundation grant will provide financial support to help nursing students graduate and enter the workforce

A $200,000 grant from Trellis Foundation will address the critical nursing shortage by helping nursing students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso avoid the need for working outside jobs, which will allow them to focus on completing their degrees in the accelerated 16-month program.

The three-year pilot project will provide grants to senior-level students in the Hunt School of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program as compensation for their clinical training with local hospital partners. Students are required to complete 120 clinical hours in the first semester of their senior year and 90 hours in the second semester of their senior year, making it difficult for nursing students to focus on the rigorous program and work outside jobs. That financial support will help many of the Hunt School of Nursing’s nontraditional students who may be attending school while working and caring for a family, as well as other students who may otherwise struggle to complete the program.

“This program is highly competitive for admissions, rigorous and fast-paced, making it imperative that student nurses focus on their studies, clinical rotations and preparation for the National Council Licensure Examination,” said Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie L. Woods, Ph.D., R.N. “If a student has to take on an outside job, they jeopardize their standing in school and their future careers.”

At the Hunt School of Nursing, most nursing students have significant unmet financial needs, and approximately half of any entering class is at risk of financial problems. Because of student debt, earning a degree and embarking on a nursing career doesn’t stop that financial stress.

Because many students have pursued other degree programs before nursing, they may have exhausted the amount of Pell Grant funds and subsidized loans available to cover their educational expenses. Additionally, more than 70% of nursing school students graduate with student loan debt, based on data from the National Student Nurses Association.

Hunt School of Nursing student Marissa Ramser said support from organizations like the Trellis Foundation open the doors for real-world training opportunities without added financial stress. After working in higher education for six years, she was inspired by the students she served to fulfill a new dream of becoming a nurse while raising her young son.

“Public service and caring for others have always been part of my character,” Ramser said. “But my son, who relies on me financially and emotionally, gave me the extra push to pursue a career high in demand in our community. I quit my full-time job to dedicate my time to the accelerated nursing program, but I know that in a little over a year, our lives will forever change for the better.”

Since 2013, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated 1,177 students, and a majority of those graduates stay in our Borderplex region to work. When nursing graduates remain in the area, life-changing economic success comes earlier and is a victory for nurses, their families and the local economy. Through programs like the one funded by the Trellis Foundation, that economic success is even stronger. Currently, 87% of students at the Hunt School of Nursing are El Paso natives.

The Hunt School of Nursing offers the only accelerated program in the region where students earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in just 16 months. The rigorous program is a combination of classroom and hands-on learning using patient simulators and hospital settings. Through a unique partnership with local hospitals, students have clinical rotation opportunities and post-graduation job placement.

Through a curriculum focused on cross-disciplinary collaboration with hospitals, nursing students work in clinical teams alongside physicians and within the community. Because nearly 90% of nursing graduates stay to practice in the region, that concept of care continues to impact border populations. If proven effective for improved student and workforce outcomes, this focus could lead to a statewide model implemented to end the acute challenges of the nursing shortage.

As a complete approach to success, the pilot program will partner with community agencies such as Project ARRIBA (Advanced Retraining & Redevelopment Initiative in Border Areas) and Workforce Solutions Borderplex, which will help cover the cost of student training to expand on the wrap-around support services for students.

As enthusiastic supporters of our Borderplex, Trellis Foundation previously awarded a $100,000 grant to the Hunt School of Nursing to provide stipends for students in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The funds, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Texas Workforce Commission’s Texas Industry Partnership program and administered through Workforce Solutions Borderplex, came at a critical time during the pandemic when nursing students needed help to alleviate financial hardships.

“We are thrilled to support Texas Tech Health Sciences Center El Paso and the mutually beneficial relationships between higher education and employers,” said Kristin Boyer, executive director for Trellis Foundation. “We applaud their efforts to strengthen collaboration with health care employers to build a sustainable workforce pipeline that benefits the entire region.”


About Trellis Foundation

Trellis Foundation advances equitable educational opportunities in Texas by supporting postsecondary programs, practices and systems that reduce disparities and lead to success for low-income students and students of color. More information is available at



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At TTUHSC El Paso, we are committed to growing our own health care heroes and changing the state of health care in our Borderplex. For more information about how you can help, please contact or or visit


Original Article: TECH TALK - OCT 26, 2023


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