Montana State University

Montana wins $300,000 grant to build more highly educated nursing workforce

August 8, 2014 -- MSU News Service

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The state of Montana has been selected to receive a $300,000, two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help continue its work to build a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce.

The grant – part of phase two of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’s (or RWJF) Academic Progression in Nursing, or APIN, program – will be made to the Montana Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Center in the Montana State University College of Nursing on behalf of the Montana Action Coalition. With the funds, the coalition intends to develop a model of nursing education that fosters seamless transitions from one level of nursing education to the next, according to Cynthia Gustafson, executive director of the Montana Board of Nursing and co-lead of the Montana Action Coalition.

Gustafson said the grant will provide partners in Montana with “significant resources to work together as leaders in education, practice and regulation in order to open up pathways for nurses to be prepared for the future health care needs of Montanans.”

She added that the state will focus on increasing the number of Native American nurses in Montana by working cooperatively with nursing education programs to provide inclusive environments for student success. 

According to the RWJF, APIN grants are designed to allow states to continue working with academic institutions and employers to expand their efforts to help nurses in their states get higher degrees. Doing so allows nurses to be essential partners in providing care and promoting health, as well as to more easily continue their education and fill faculty and primary care nurse practitioner roles. Action coalitions in the states also have been encouraging strong partnerships between community colleges and universities in order to make it easier for nurses to transition to higher degrees. The Montana Action Coalition will also develop a sustainability plan to ensure that its work to promote seamless academic progression for nurses in Montana will continue beyond the grant period, as well as a diversity plan.

Receiving the grant means that the Montana Action Coalition, as well as action coalitions in eight other states, all met or exceeded benchmarks from phase one of the APIN program and will be able to continue their work for two additional years, according to Gustafson.

In addition to Montana, states receiving phase two APIN grants are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington. Funding from the RWJF to the states is expected to total $5.4 million over four years.

APIN is run by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) on behalf of the Tri-Council for Nursing, which consists of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National League for Nursing, American Nurses Association, and AONE, which is leading the four-year initiative. 

Contact: Kailyn Dorhauer, Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center, (406) 994-7709 or