CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice today announced the continuation of his successful Nursing Workforce Expansion Program through $20 million that was approved in this year’s state budget. Joined at WVU Parkersburg (WVUP) by House Finance Chair Vernon Criss, Higher Education Chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker, and Interim WVUP President Torie Jackson, Gov. Justice celebrated this investment that will fund the second year of expanded nursing education programs across the state.
With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating West Virginia’s nursing shortage, Gov. Justice launched a $48 million Nursing Workforce Expansion Program in December 2021 through a multi-pronged approach to support, recruit, and train nurses. This included $26 million to further develop nursing education programs, through which West Virginia welcomed 810 new nursing students during the first year of the program.
“Today, I am proud to announce that we were able to include an additional $20 million in the state budget to continue growing these educational opportunities for West Virginia’s future nurses,” Gov. Justice said. “This represents another historic investment in our state’s nurses, who are the heart and soul of our health care system, and I am thrilled that these funds will further strengthen nursing programs all across West Virginia.
“With the Governor’s initial investment, and now this continued funding through the Legislature, we are investing more strongly in this critical workforce than ever before,” Delegate Criss said. “Here at WVUP, this funding is making additional accelerated nursing education opportunities possible for the Mid-Ohio Valley, and I am so proud that we are making it happen.”
At today’s event, Interim President Jackson introduced WVUP nursing student Sydney Tennant, who graduated in May 2022 with her associate degree and is currently working as a nurse at WVU Medicine Camden Clark while pursuing her bachelor’s degree.
“As an 18-year-old, fresh high school graduate attempting to navigate her first steps into the real world, obtaining a college education was slightly intimidating,” Tennant said. “WVU Parkersburg provided me with the opportunity to pursue my nursing education at a great program and stay close to home.”
Also today, Gov. Justice highlighted the partnership he announced nearly one year ago between WVUP and Chemours, a chemistry company with locations in the state. The partnership is providing the opportunity for more than 300 West Virginia Chemours employees to earn their associate degree through the college. To fund equipment and faculty, WorkForce West Virginia awarded $1.2 million and the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia awarded $377,000 to WVUP.
Five-year Chemours employee Dave Smith, who is among the first to participate in the training, talked today about what this opportunity means to him.
“This partnership is helping with the future stability of the plant, the community, and the employees,” Smith said.
“This kind of forward-thinking partnership will keep businesses like Chemours thriving, and people like Dave growing in their careers, for years to come,” Gov Justice said.