VIDA awarded $3M grant to help address nursing labor shortage, STC to receive funds
The Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) was recently awarded a five-year $3 million grant as part of the Nursing Expansion Grant Program by the U.S. Department of Labor, and STC will receive half-a-million-dollars from this grant to purchase necessary equipment and software to implement an augmented virtual reality lab for student clinical training.
WESLACO, Texas – South Texas College will soon be able to take another step toward addressing the nation-wide nursing shortage thanks to funds awarded to the college by its longtime partner in education - Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA).
VIDA was recently awarded a five-year $3 million grant as part of the Nursing Expansion Grant Program by the U.S. Department of Labor, and STC will receive half-a-million-dollars from this grant to purchase necessary equipment and software to implement an augmented virtual reality lab for student clinical training.
South Texas College leadership joined city, state, educational and area representatives to celebrate VIDA’s grant announcement at a ceremony held recently at the Knapp Medical Center Conference Center in Weslaco.
“VIDA plays a very instrumental role in achieving student success, especially in fulfilling students’ dreams to become an RN (registered nurse),” said Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Jayson Valerio, DNP, RN. “Let's face it, it’s unfair for students to have to choose between education and putting food on the table. VIDA is there to help them with books, childcare, gas allowance and tuition fees, but also moral support, so that all students need to do is concentrate on their studies and fulfill their dreams of becoming an RN."
VIDA joins only 25 public-private partnerships across the country to receive the Nursing Expansion Grant and is the sole Texas recipient to receive a share of $78 million in total funds distributed to support workforce training programs in 17 states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The grant was secured by VIDA to support innovative public-private partnerships and strategies aimed at enhancing professional pathways to nursing and address the critical labor shortage nursing professionals face.
“It is our continued priority to maximize human capital and promote economic mobility through relevant workforce training among our underserved demographic, especially in the health care industry,” said Felida Villarreal, CPA, president and chief executive officer of VIDA. “For this grant project, VIDA is partnering with 13 local area hospitals, three higher education training institutions, various community-based organizations, and both regional workforce development boards.”
VIDA plays a very instrumental role in achieving student success, especially in fulfilling students’ dreams to become an RN (registered nurse. Let's face it, it’s unfair for students to have to choose between education and putting food on the table. VIDA is there to help them with books, childcare, gas allowance and tuition fees, but also moral support, so that all students need to do is concentrate on their studies and fulfill their dreams of becoming an RN.
This grant project will provide VIDA with the opportunity to train and upskill 725 participants in high demand nursing occupations and ultimately help them secure employment at a partner hospital, Villarreal continued.
“The key to our proposed innovative strategy for addressing the allied health and nursing labor shortage across the Rio Grande Valley is partnerships, collaboration and accountability,” Villarreal said. “These funds will be utilized to implement virtual reality technology for nursing clinicals, increase the number of nursing instructors at partner training institutions, provide customized wraparound student support services to ensure program completion and ultimately job placement at one of the partner hospitals.”
Valerio said the lower Rio Grande Valley is the region of Texas that suffers the most with nursing labor shortage. According to recent statistics, 27.1% of nurses quit their job within a year due to stress and burnout, Valerio said.
“We know the statistics, and to help our community South Texas College is trying its best to produce more nurses,” Valerio said. “We have 164 brand new ADN (associate degree in nursing) students coming into the fall of 2023 and we will see 124 graduates for ADN this semester, as well. Now, this collaboration with VIDA is going to help us with technology. We have to reach out to all our students regardless of where they are and allow them to have access to our simulation technology. As Dr. Solis has mentioned, education must come at anytime, anywhere and any modality.”
Texas Sen. Morgan LaMantia was a keynote speaker at VIDA’s grant announcement and said the grant will not only benefit the individuals who receive the training, but will also have a profound impact on the health care sector in the Rio Grande Valley.
“VIDA’s work enriches individuals’ lives and contributes significantly to our local economy and the impact VIDA will continue to have is embodied in this recognition,” LaMantia said. “It symbolizes progress, growth and the resilient spirit of our community…so let’s celebrate and embrace the promise that this grant brings. May it be a catalyst for even greater accomplishments in the years to come.”
For nearly 28 years, VIDA has helped more than 6,000 economically disadvantaged Rio Grande Valley residents successfully complete career training programs in targeted high-demand occupations, and officials said the Nursing Expansion Grant will undoubtedly open new horizons for supporting VIDA’s mission to train and prepare professionals in nursing and allied health occupations.
“I feel confident that during the next five years you will witness incredible outcomes as it relates to building a highly qualifying and highly competitive nursing professional pipeline,” Villarreal said. “It is my vision that following the completion of this five-year grant project, we will have the privilege of working alongside a prosperous local nursing workforce that started with this endeavor.”