Durbin Announces $850,000 In Federal Funding For Bradley University's Nurse Training And Workforce Development Program

PEORIA – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined leaders from Bradley University and Peoria Public Schools to announce $850,000 in new federal funding to support state-of-the-art training and education for nursing students at Bradley University. The funding, which Durbin secured in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill, will allow Bradley University to install a new High-Fidelity Multi-Patient Nursing Simulation Lab and implement a workforce development program for local Peoria Public High School students. These investments will allow nursing students to improve their technical skillset, help address a growing nursing shortage, and bolster the region’s health care workforce.


 “Even before the strain of the pandemic, our nation was in the midst of a nursing staffing crisis. Hospitals have struggled with hiring and retaining nurses – many of whom are burned-out from working long hours, struggling with being short-staffed, or simply exhausted from the pandemic. Fortunately, Bradley University is working to combat this problem. That’s why I secured this new federal funding to support the University in helping train our region’s nursing workforce,” Durbin said. “I am particularly excited by the fact that Bradley University will further use this funding to partner with local high schools to attract our younger students to the nursing profession. Building this local pipeline of health care workers will help promote diversity that improves patient care, and strengthens our local economy.”


“As a first-generation college student, my first exposure to the healthcare discipline was as a high school student, and it set the tone for my future. That first touchpoint ignited my love for healthcare. Being able to connect the K-12 system to health professions like nursing, and giving them hands-on opportunities to experience it, will allow us to connect area students to this industry and hopefully inspire them to go on to secondary education in these fields,” said Dr. Jessica Clark, Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences at Bradley University.


“Securing this federal funding represents a win not only for Peoria Public Schools students, but the entire Peoria community. Bradley will now be able to tap into a local pipeline of high school students for its nursing simulation lab, preparing a diverse future workforce for the thriving medical economy in central Illinois. This program also aligns with our ongoing efforts in Peoria Public Schools of providing meaningful, experiential learning to prepare our students to be successful in 21st Century careers. I thank Senator Durbin for securing this funding and also give my gratitude to Dr. Standifird and his team for the ongoing partnership between Peoria Public Schools and Bradley University,” said Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Superintendent of Peoria Public Schools. 


The High-Fidelity Multi-Patient Nursing Simulation Lab will provide state-of-the-art training and education to nursing students at the university and allow nursing students to bridge the gap between skills and content they learn within the classroom and onsite clinical rotations completed within the community setting. This investment will also allow Bradley University to provide nurse simulation training for local high school students at Manual High School and Peoria (Central) High School, which are part of the Peoria Public School system. Students will be invited to participate in a targeted early learning program using the simulation lab.


This project will not only improve the technical skillset of the community’s local nursing student population, but it also will address a growing nurse shortage in Illinois, where 52 percent of nurses are over the age of 55. According to state data, approximately 27 percent of Illinois nurses will retire within the next five years.


Durbin has been a longtime advocate of investing in the future of our health care workforce and last year helped secure $1 billion in National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps scholarship and loan repayment funding for health care workers in the American Rescue Plan.