Durbin Announces $500,000 in Federal Funding to Establish Regional Nursing Program at SIU's Carbondale Campus

[CARBONDALE, IL] – The nursing workforce in Southern Illinois will soon be bolstered as a result of $500,000 in federal funding for a new nursing program at Southern Illinois University, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) told students and faculty at the Carbondale campus today.  The funding will give the SIU Edwardsville School of Nursing the resources to open a campus in Carbondale.  The earmark was secured by Durbin in the fiscal year 2010 omnibus appropriation bill.

“The 3 million nurses across the country are the frontline workers and foundation of our healthcare system.  They care for us and our loved ones when we are at our most vulnerable.  But, no nurse can be on the front line of care without first getting a solid education,” said Durbin, the author of several bills to help ease the nation’s nursing shortage. 
“This is a tremendous opportunity to grow a program that has played an integral role in educating the nursing pipeline for our state,” Durbin said.  “For years, SIU Edwardsville has had the only public baccalaureate in nursing program south of Bloomington, Illinois.  No longer.”
Beginning this fall, 42 will be admitted to the SIUE School of Nursing at Carbondale.  When there is a full complement of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, there will be approximately 120 nursing students at the Carbondale campus. 
“Our nation’s supply of nurses is simply not keeping pace with our growing healthcare needs.  As baby boomers are getting ready to retire, so are almost half of all nurses in America.  By 2020, the shortage in Illinois alone could exceed 21,000, which would pose a significant threat to the ability of our health care system to deliver quality care. That’s why investments like this one in nursing workforce recruitment and retention are critical,” said Durbin. 
 “This funding will not only help us grow the quantity of students entering the nursing profession, it will help us grow the opportunities for students of the southern, rural part of Illinois.  With a geographically diverse pool of students, the hospitals and health centers across Illinois will be stronger as a result.  This expansion of SUIE’s nursing program will help make available the nurses we need for tomorrow,” said Durbin.
The $500,000 federal appropriation has allowed SIU to:


  • Hire a director to manage the new nursing program at the Carbondale site;
  • Hire a lab coordinator to assemble and run the simulation lab, as well as purchase sophisticated patient simulators;
  • Hire an additional faculty member; and
  • Purchase the video equipment and beaming capabilities needed to meet the increased demand for live tele-video education.
Durbin said the new healthcare reform law will bring increased access to care and insurance reforms that will require a strong healthcare workforce.  “It’s critically important that we strengthen our nursing schools, thereby increasing the number of nurses available in rural areas of Illinois and improving the quality of care.  That’s why the new health reform law will expand education, practice, and retention programs for nurses.  It supports student loan, scholarship, and loan repayment programs—including expanding existing loan repayment and scholarship programs to increase number of nursing faculty.  It also enhances development of advanced practice nurses, including those who deliver primary care services—the men and women who are on the front line of healthcare.”