UND nursing program that caters to American Indian students has
picked up a grant totaling $567,000 to enhance recruitment and retention
of students and to address a critical health-care work force shortage
in rural areas.
The three-year federal
grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will
go to the school's Recruitment and Retention of American Indians
into Nursing program, or RAIN, which has produced more than 100
American Indian health professionals since it began 15 years ago.
Many of those nurses
have gone back to work in Indian reservations, a segment of the
population in critical need of health-care workers.
Helen Melland, interim
dean of UND's Nursing College, said the federal funding will help
continue that trend by attracting more American Indian students
into the program through new linkages with tribal colleges in the
are at a critical stage in all of North Dakota, but it's worse on
the reservations and in rural areas, Melland said.
The need is exacerbated
because of the health environment that prevails on reservations,
she said. About 43 percent of American Indians in North Dakota have
diabetes, and about 40 percent of pregnant women on reservations
smoke during pregnancy. Also, American Indians have an infant mortality
rate nearly double that of white populations.
faces significant health challenges," Melland said.
North Dakota has
about 8,500 licensed registered nurses, of which fewer than 120,
or 1.4 percent, are American Indian. American Indians make up about
5 percent of the state's population.
Deb Wilson, director
of RAIN, said the grant would pay for a number of new aspects for
the program, including a weeklong orientation session for new students,
a part-time science mentor and funding to travel to national conferences
to network with leaders in nursing education.
really an expansion of what we've already been doing," Wilson
RAIN already recruits
heavily from North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, and now the
new funding will allow it to make inroads into Minnesota. The program
expects as many as 40 new students in the next three years, including
three who will enter doctoral programs.
director of UND's American Indian Student Services, said the RAIN
program is another example of why UND is regarded nationally as
a leader in educational opportunities for Indian people.
Currently, UND offers
and administers 26 American Indian programs and has an Indian enrollment
of more than 450 students.
are to increase that much further than what we have now," Jeanotte