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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Indian Nursing Program Lands $500,000


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A 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 Upper Midwest.

Nursing shortages 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.

"This population 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.

Enhanced services
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.

"It's just really an expansion of what we've already been doing," Wilson said.

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.

Leigh Jeanotte, 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.

"Our goals are to increase that much further than what we have now," Jeanotte said.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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