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LMU, CHI St. Joseph partnership aims to alleviate nursing shortage

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 10, 2024

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The nursing shortage across Kentucky was bad before COVID-19 began spreading in 2020. It’s only gotten worse since.

“Some of the conditions they were working in, we think, fueled the mass exodus of the nursing profession,” said Dr. Jason McConnell.

Dr. McConnell, the president of Lincoln Memorial University, was in Lexington Wednesday to help cut the ribbon on the 1.2 million-dollar partnership his university forged with CHI St. Joseph. Together, the two hope to eradicate the nursing shortage by offering state-of-the-art teaching methods and technology at what’ll now be a training facility inside their Harrodsburg Road complex.

“High-performing nurses recognize, ‘I don’t know everything,’” Melissa Bennett began to explain. Bennet is the Chief Nurse Executive for CHI St. Joseph.

“How am I going to know what’s happening, and how am I going to feel comfortable?" she added while showing off some of the new technology. Some of that includes simulated hospital rooms, with a control center that can change medical scenarios on the fly to force split-second decision-making in life-threatening situations.

“We have a lot of patients, and those patients can have signs and symptoms just like a real patient,” she said.

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Lincoln Memorial’s Caylor School of Nursing spearheads the curriculum, and its dean offered some gloomy statistics about the profession in Kentucky.

“Right now, there are 10 nurses for every 1,000 (people), Dr. Tammy Dean said. “And there’s only 5,000 students enrolled in Kentucky nursing programs,” she added, while making remarks during today’s ceremony. She said those numbers are not nearly enough.

The hope is this program will attract students back to the profession.

“By having something here that’s accessible, it’s an opportunity for people coming right out of high school, but a chance for people looking to have professional development and get their bachelor's degree,” Mrs. Bennett said.

“We want to make sure the nurses we turn out are set up for success right out of the gate,” Dr. McConnell added.