ASU-Mountain Home to expand health education offerings with $6M federal appropriation | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Arkansas State University-Mountain Home will be able to significantly expand its health education efforts thanks to a recent $6 million federal appropriation.

A legislative package presented by U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., that helps fund health education at the college with a $6 million appropriation was signed into law late last month. “I’m proud to deliver investments to Arkansas that support growth and development, as well as improve the quality of life for Natural State residents,” the state’s senior senator said in a statement.

“These bills will enhance health services access and workforce capabilities to deliver quality care in addition to expanding our state’s national defense contributions,” Boozman added.

The fiscal 2024 appropriations bill will provide funding to support expansion of ASU-Mountain Home’s health care education facility and enhanced technology to develop the medical workforce, according to the college, which offers programs in Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Medication Assistant-Certified, Paramedic Technology, Practical Nursing (LPN), Pre-Nursing, Professional Medical Coding, Registered Nursing (RN), Health Professions, and Health Sciences. Students in the health sciences learn through a blend of face-to-face lectures, online education, skills lab practice, simulations, and clinical experiences.

“Mountain Home is a regional destination for world-class health care services, [and] we appreciate Senator Boozman’s vision and leadership as he continues to focus on improving the lives of Arkansans,” ASU-Mountain Home Chancellor Bentley Wallace said in a news release from the college. “Securing these funds will allow for expanded and enhanced nursing and allied health education to serve the growing health services needs in north-central Arkansas.”

The Arkansas Department of Education granted ASU-Mountain Home approval to pilot a project with high school students in LPN education in 2022, easing the transition from high school to college to the workforce, according to the college.

The school’s health sciences building, built in 2012 and named for Dr. Bernice Gotaas — a pioneering female physician from the Twin Lakes area — houses simulation laboratories with lifelike medical mannequins, an ambulance simulator, and classrooms that mimic hospital rooms.

“We are very excited to hear the news regarding funding for the expansion of the health sciences building and programs,” Ron Peterson, president/CEO of Baxter Health, said in the news release. “With the shortage of health care workforce and the need for additional educational opportunities, this could not have come at a better time.”

Health care professions have been a priority for ASU-Mountain Home and will continue to be an area of emphasis, Wallace said shortly after he started his job as chancellor last year.

Mountain Home is a retirement community, “which amplifies the need” for nurses and other health care professionals,” he said.

Nursing is one of the top fields for job growth through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Arkansas is roughly 9,000 nurses short of meeting care demand in the state, according to a report released last year commissioned by the Arkansas Hospital Association. The report, compiled by Global-Data PLC — a data analytics and consulting company headquartered in London — stated that demand for registered nurses is expected to grow by roughly 8% by 2035, “primarily driven by the projected increase in Arkansas’s eldest population age groups.”

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