Legislature moves to expand nursing education in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a health care staffing shortage in Washington, so the state Legislature this year provided more than $38 million to expand nursing programs statewide.

Some schools, like Eastern Washington University, got funding to create a new four-year program while others, including Washington State University, didn’t receive any to bolster their current programs. Legislators and university officials say that’s just because of what funding each school requested this year.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Eastern Washington University received $6.1 million in the next two years to expand their current two-year nursing program to a full four-year program.

Western Washington University received funding this year to create a new master of science and nursing program, which will enroll 10 to 15 students each year. They also received $433,000 to increase enrollment in their registered nurse to bachelor’s of science in nursing program.

The University of Washington received more than $1.2 million for additional nursing slots at the Seattle and Tacoma campuses.

Technical and community colleges received more than $3.7 million for at least 50 additional nursing slots.

The Legislature also set aside more than $15 million to modernize equipment in simulation labs at community colleges, universities and public high schools.