Over the next four years, the School of Nursing at Saint Louis University will receive $1.5 million in federal funds to support disadvantaged students with student mentors, faculty mentors and pre-entry work experiences. In addition to the mentoring, selected students will receive stipends for support their nursing education.

It is a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) nursing workforce diversity grant that will help SLU’s School of Nursing increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. African American and Hispanic/Latino students are underrepresented in nursing education.

“These funds will help increase diversity within SLU School of Nursing,” said Teri Murray, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing. “Racially diverse students, from populations currently underrepresented in nursing, will be paired with peer mentors, faculty mentors and seasoned nurse mentors who are out working in the field.”

The peer mentors are upper-division nursing students who can assist the incoming students as they navigate academic life and nursing school. SLU will collaborate with SSM Health, the Black Nurses of Association of Greater St. Louis, and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses to identify professional mentors for selected nursing students.

“Mentoring has been shown to be effective for students from underrepresented backgrounds in serving as role models, assisting students to navigate college life and the profession, and in general showing the student the ropes,” Murray told the American. “Each of the students in the project will be assigned a professional nurse mentor, a nursing faculty mentor, and an upperclassman nursing student mentor (near-peer) during the course of their nursing education.”

The freshman and sophomore students will receive stipends, which include $5,000 to assist with tuition, books and fees, a $200 monthly stipend toward food/housing and a monthly Metro transportation pass, as needed.

The program also includes the University 101 program to prepare students for college life and a dedicated retention specialist.

“There is so much in the literature/research that the financial challenges can be most pressing for students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds,” Murray said. “Because of this, the grant provided monthly stipends so that students could perhaps work less and thus have more time for their studies.”

The HRSA grant funding will assist a total of 40 students, or 10 students each year.

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