Gov. David Ige has released $1.75 million for 39 new instructor positions to help address Hawaiʻi’s severe nursing faculty shortage and to support University of Hawaiʻi nursing programs statewide. The funding release includes enough to fund three positions at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in Kahului.
The initiative, which Ige included in his budget request to the state Legislature that lawmakers approved during the 2022 legislative session, will help UH graduate more nurses to meet the workforce demands of the state.
A news conference was held on the UH Mānoa campus on Thursday to discuss the appropriation and its importance.
There are an estimated 1,000 current nurse vacancies in Hawaiʻi, according to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Hawaiʻi State labor data predicts there is an anticipated growth of nurse demand of an additional 110 positions each year, through 2030, according to UH.
“COVID-19 created an opportunity to collaborate with UH President David Lassner and the UH System to ensure our state higher education system is well positioned to help the state respond to this incredible healthcare challenge,” said Gov. Ige in a University news release. “The $1.75 million I allocated for UH is an investment which will support the stability and future of nursing education in Hawaiʻi.”
The 39 positions will support instruction needs for approximately 230 nursing students. Currently, there are about 770 nursing students enrolled across the UH System: UH Mānoa, UH Hilo, UH Maui College, Kapiʻolani Community College, Kauaʻi CC and Hawaiʻi CC.
UH System schools educated and trained 59% of the 442 LPN and RN students who graduated from schools throughout Hawaiʻi in the last academic year. UH nursing programs make up six of the eight pre-license nursing education programs in Hawaiʻi that prepare students for entry into LPN or RN practice. In addition, UH programs are the only way for neighbor island students to become nurses in Hawaiʻi.
UH nursing schools with the greatest faculty and instructor needs are receiving the most support, which will benefit neighbor island and community college programs.
UH Mānoa—$354,767 (8 positions)
UH Hilo—$532,150 (12 positions)
UH Community Colleges—$842,572 (19 positions)
- Kapiʻolani CC—(9 positons)
- UH Maui College—(3 positions)
- Kaua‘i CC—(3 positions)
- Hawaiʻi CC—(4 positions)
In order to retain the new nursing instructors, $27,000 will support their professional development to gain new competencies in nursing education.
“The funding will support the incredible contributions UH nursing schools provide to the state. I’d like to thank Gov. Ige, with the support of our state lawmakers, for investing in our academic workforce in order to improve retention of our highly talented faculty and to enroll qualified students whose dreams are to become a nurse,” said Lassner.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, state nursing schools were able to graduate an adequate number of nurses to meet workforce needs, according to the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing. However, in the last two academic years, there has been a loss of 15% of state-funded nursing positions. In addition, budget constraints prevented schools from receiving funds to hire replacements for faculty who left their positions.
“To regain balance, Hawaiʻi must immediately increase the number of nurses we graduate. It takes 4 years to graduate as a bachelors-prepared nurse. Efforts today will impact our nursing workforce in 4 years. The time to act is now,” said Reichhardt, who leads HSCN efforts to respond to nursing workforce shortages.
“I’d like to acknowledge the unified effort between the nursing schools and nursing employers for their commitment to local nursing education, hiring new graduates into the workforce, and ensuring coordinated and close communication that helps us plan for the future,” said Reichhardt.
UH is actively recruiting and hiring for the nursing lecture positions. For more information, visit Work at UH.