A student in the MSU
College of Nursing's Caring for Our Own Program practices
with a fellow student in a simulation lab. MSU photo by Kelly
BOZEMAN, Mont. Backed by $2.5 million in new federal grant
funding, Montana State University plans to offer full-ride scholarships
to American Indian and Alaska Native students who enroll in its
College of Nursing.
The Montana Advantage Nursing Scholarships program is open to all
American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduates in the nursing
program. Participants must demonstrate financial need and be a member
of the school's Caring For Our Own Program an initiative
designed to encourage more Native Americans and Alaska Natives to
enter the nursing field or MSU's TRIO Student Support Services
"The Caring for Our Own Program has a 20-year track record demonstrating
that the nursing shortage in rural and tribal areas of Montana can
be solved," Professor Laura Larsson, director of the Caring For
Our Own Program, said in a statement. "This funding will accelerate
The five-year grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration
will support 175 students total beginning in fall of 2020 through
2025. The university expects to have 24 students enrolled in the
program this year and increase to 37 students by the end of the
program, according to a statement.
By reducing financial barriers for students, the scholarship program
aims to increase Native enrollment and graduation rates to "deliver
culturally sensitive health care services to American Indian and
Alaska Native people living in remote, rural settings and, to a
lesser degree, urban areas," Larsson stated.
"We know from years of research that having a health care workforce
that mirrors the racial or ethnic identities of patients is critical
for achieving good health outcomes. Better access to culturally
competent, clinically excellent American Indian and Alaska Native
nurses will help to meet the health care needs of Montana's tribal
community members," she said in a statement.
Sarah Shannon, dean of the College of Nursing, said that the grant-funded
scholarships will allow MSU to "double our impact" in supporting
additional Native students.
"We want to help Montana do a better job of providing health care
for the Native American people who were its first citizens," Shannon
added. "We are proud that now we will be able to educate even more
American Indian and Alaska Native bachelor's-prepared nurses ready
to provide evidence-based, culturally competent care."