University of Jamestown Receives $2.5M Grant to Address Nursing Shortage

May 22, 2023


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JAMESTOWN, N.D. — A grant of nearly $2.5 million was awarded to University of Jamestown by the U.S. Department of Labor. UJ will use these funds to help address North Dakota’s ongoing nursing shortage.

The university was one of 25 organizations across the U.S.—and the only organization in North Dakota—selected to receive a share of $78 million in grant funds as part of the Department of Labor’s Nursing Expansion Grant Program. The grant was designed to help diversify the pipeline of nursing professionals able to fill jobs and improve the nation’s healthcare system.

“We are extremely honored to be a recipient of this grant from the Department of Labor,” said UJ President Dr. Polly Peterson. “This support will allow us to expand access to nursing education—in a time when we need it most—to all learners by creating an innovative, work-force centric model that synthesizes learning and earning within an incredibly supportive environment designed to promote persistence.”

North Dakota’s Labor Market Information (NDLMI) Center projects a 13.9% increase in demand for registered nurses from 2020 to 2030. According to UJ’s Nursing Department Chair Dr. Kimberly Ash, DNP, University of Jamestown is addressing this nursing shortage by strategically partnering with Sanford Health to deliver nursing education in a way that will meet the needs of a diverse population of learners.

Using the Department of Labor grant funds, UJ will launch an innovative learning center in Fargo for nurses with collaborative programing partnering with Sanford Health. The new learning center will house a percentage of the university’s nursing programs, which are available both online and in person.

“There’s no question about it—we need more quality nurses,” said Dr. Ash. “We are experiencing a nursing shortage and will continue to see one due to multiple factors including, but not limited to, the aging baby boomer population and their increased need for care, nurse burnout which was exacerbated by the pandemic, and more nurses entering retirement age.”

According to Dr. Ash, the program is a worker-focused alternative to traditional nursing education in a university setting. It will immerse students in hospitals from day one, while incentivizing new nurses to remain in North Dakota by offering employment and tuition repayment—characteristics Dr. Ash refers to as key to inspiring a new generation of students and career changers.

“Work-based learning and post-program employment are essential components built into the learning center model,” said Dr. Ash. “Through this novel center, students are given the opportunity to learn systems, people, culture, and practices within the healthcare industry—resulting in high-quality, practice ready nurses.”

Dr. Peterson said the innovative learning center model is distinctive for three main reasons: “First, we’ve created a pathway for second-career learners by offering an accelerated direct- entry model into our nursing programs to those with bachelor’s degrees from different fields. Second, we’ve prioritized low-income adults and adults with dependents by offering 10 hours of weekly paid work while assisting them with the academic support necessary to ensure their completion. Finally, our program’s tracks equip students to begin working while stacking their credentials as they continue their education.”

Once students graduate from the program, Sanford Health plans to offer employment and tuition reimbursement options.

 “As a long-time clinical partner to the University, Sanford has benefitted tremendously from the quality nurses the University graduates,” said Sanford’s Vice President of Nursing and Clinic Services Theresa Larson. “Sanford is proud to partner with the University of Jamestown on this highly innovated new program that will add over 200 nurses to our staff throughout the three-year grant period.”

About University of Jamestown

Established as Jamestown College in 1883 by members of the Presbyterian Church, University of Jamestown is a private, liberal arts university granting Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees as well as master’s degrees in Education, Leadership, and Clinical Counseling. Doctoral degrees are available in Physical Therapy and Clinical Research. University of Jamestown Accelerated, UJ’s online division, is based in Phoenix and delivers intensive upskilling opportunities to learners in a variety of settings. For more information, please visit

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