Minnesota State, University of Minnesota announce collaboration to address nursing workforce crisis
Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota have entered into a collaboration to reimagine nursing education and address the growing shortage of nurses in Minnesota. The newly formed Coalition for Nursing Equity and Excellence (CNEE) will work with every school of nursing in the state, health care providers and others invested in improving health care in Minnesota to increase enrollment in nurse education programs at all degree levels, expand equity in the nursing workforce and increase the success of nursing students.
“Continuing to do what we’ve been doing won’t address the current nursing shortage or the even greater one our state is facing in the very near future,” said Connie White Delaney, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. “There simply aren’t enough clinical training opportunities, nursing faculty and simulation capabilities to increase nursing enrollment and there aren’t currently enough qualified students. This Coalition for Nursing Equity and Excellence, anchored in collaboration, can provide the holistic approach Minnesota’s health care system so urgently needs.”
The need to address the shortage of nurses in Minnesota is urgent. Based on pre-pandemic data predictions, in 2025 Minnesota will need 23,000 new registered nurses (RNs) and 5,600 new licensed practical nurses (LPNs) due to regular climbing annual deficit. The pandemic has exacerbated this issue. Despite the increased demand for nurses at all levels, applications to some of the state’s nursing programs have been declining and some are forced to limit enrollment due to the inability to hire faculty.
“The need for additional nurses in Minnesota’s workforce is undeniable—in all regions of the state and at every level of the nursing career pathway,” said Valerie DeFor, executive director of the Minnesota State HealthForce Center of Excellence. “Our collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing to create a platform for all nursing schools in the state to work together and focus resources on this critical need.”
Coalition to focus on inequities in the nursing pathway
A major focus of the coalition will be on removing barriers to nursing education that have left the profession far less diverse than the communities it serves. The Minnesota Board of Nursing reports the nursing workforce in Minnesota has 13.5% non-white RNs and 15.7% non-white LPNs, compared to the general population which was approximately 21.8% non-white according to the 2019 census data. In Minnesota’s nursing workforce, 9.8% of RNs identify as male, and 6.8% of LPNs identify as male.
Scope of challenge requires true statewide solution
The coalition is being co-led by Connie White Delaney, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, and Jennifer Eccles, senior system director of nursing excellence for Minnesota State. Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota, as Minnesota’s leading public higher education systems with campuses across the state and programs encompassing the complete breadth of nursing education, are uniquely prepared to lead the CNEE’s mission in full collaboration with private sector nursing education programs.
“This collaboration is a natural fit that focuses the tremendous strength of Minnesota’s two systems of public higher education on a pressing need of the state,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “We are very pleased to be working with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and look forward to implementing new and innovative ways to build the healthcare workforce pipeline in Minnesota.”
“The University’s mission and its strategic plan, MPact 2025, aim to serve the state and impact the world,” said University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. “This unique collaboration with Minnesota State is directly aligned with those objectives and, through this innovative coalition, we are reimagining nursing education to serve as a model in addressing one of the greatest challenges facing health care, in our state and our nation.”
Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota have collaborated previously on nursing issues. Delaney is a member of the Minnesota State HealthForce Center of Excellence Partnership Council, which consists of leaders from the healthcare industry, educational institutions, industry associations, and government, and meets quarterly to identify and address a broad spectrum of healthcare workforce challenges. Last year, a supportive pathway for students currently enrolled at Saint Paul College to transfer to the University of Minnesota School of Nursing to pursue a baccalaureate of science in nursing (BSN) degree was launched to help create a more diverse nursing workforce. The University of Minnesota has also collaborated with St. Cloud State University to improve access to primary care in Central Minnesota.
“This collaboration is a natural next-step in our relationship,” said DeFor.
About the University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Visit system.umn.edu.
About Minnesota State
Minnesota State includes 26 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 300,000 students. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.