Newswise — The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas presented the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a $68,357 grant to support continuing education for healthcare professionals. 

The grant will allow UA Little Rock to launch and maintain a nationally approved continuing education program to provide continuing education opportunities for nursing students, healthcare professionals, and emergency response professionals. 

“The grant will benefit our students, current and future nurses, and other healthcare professionals, such as paramedics, by offering AACN continuing education opportunities right here at UA Little Rock,” said Dr. Elizabeth Sloan Davidson, chair of the Department of Nursing.

The UA Little Rock Department of Nursing will use the funds to receive certification from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for the continuing education program and to hire a part-time nurse planner to administer and maintain the program. 

“With our state-of-the-art simulation center, made possible in part by earlier funding from the Blue & You Foundation, we are in a prime position to offer unique opportunities for hands-on application of new skills that will then provide a safer and even better quality healthcare experience for Arkansans,” Sloan Davidson said. “Our students can graduate already having skills and credentials that will give them a step-up in job readiness. We are grateful for this opportunity.”

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001. Since then, it has awarded more than $36 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies for 1,922 health-improvement programs in the state. UA Little Rock was one of 39 initiatives out of more than 260 applications funded through the foundation’s 2020 grant awards.

“We had a record-high number of applications this year. The UA Little Rock application stood out, and that is why it was chosen,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “We appreciate everything you are doing to help keep Arkansans healthy and to build our medical workforce. We know how very important that is.”

This is the sixth grant UA Little Rock has received from the Blue & You Foundation, totaling more than $375,000. Some of the previous grants have funded nursing equipment that will be used in the continuing education classes, including pediatric simulation models and mannequins that nursing students use to simulate human patients. UA Little Rock plans to begin offering continuing education classes in July.