With new state funding, UH nursing programs will bring on dozens of clinical instructors

UH nursing programs receive $1.75 million to hire 39 clinical instructors.
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 4:55 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 7:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Help is coming to University of Hawaii’s over-stretched nursing programs.

Gov. David Ige announced the release of $1.75 million to fund 39 positions for new clinical instructors.

The part-time teaching positions will be filled by full-time nurses who are supplementing their clinical income by giving students real-world training.

Nursing educators welcome the added support and say it’s one step to addressing the crippling nursing workforce shortage.

While it’s not an actual emergency room or intensive care unit, the students at the UH Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing get plenty of clinical experience at this simulation center.

Staff gave Ige and the media a tour of one of the training facilities in desperate need of instructors.

“These are nurses who bring students into a clinical setting,” said Laura Reichhardt, director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing.

“Oftentimes, these are full time employed bedside nurses, so there’ll be nurses who have a job in a hospital and it’s their exposure to academia.”

The funding frees up full-time faculty who’ve had to fill the gaps and keep the ratio at one instructor to eight students.

“They’ve had to teach extra courses, or extra number of students going to clinical sections,” said Clementina Ceria-Ulep, interim dean for the UH Manoa Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing.

“And so for Manoa, it will find us an additional eight faculty that and who will then take off some of that load that’s been taken by our existing faculty who need some time to rest.”

Instructors are recruited from hospitals like Queen’s Health Systems and Hawaii Pacific Health, and will work across the state this upcoming academic year.

There will be 17 on Oahu, 16 on the Big island, three on Maui, and three on Kauai.

“Many of these new instructors will teach on neighbor islands and in community college programs where nursing faculty are in greatest need,” Ige said. “Thirty-nine new instructors will support an additional 230 nursing students who will eventually care for 1000s of patients on every island.”

UH President David Lassner said the state support is “very substantial, almost doubling what we can do each year. And just to give you context, right now, there’s about 770 nursing students. So this is a huge, huge boost to our capacity,”

About 60% of the state’s new nurses graduate from UH ― and many of them plan to stay if they can land a job.

“Everyone’s preference seems to be to stay here in Hawaii and serve the community that we were raised in that we’ve done our clinicals with that we have our nursing school in,” said UH Manoa nursing student Natalie Welch.

While these positions give faculty some relief, some believe it’s a Band-Aid that doesn’t address the need for dozens of full-time professors.

And it’s just one piece of the crisis, the state says it needs 1,000 nurses now and 110 more each year through 2030.