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DSU nursing program to expand with Longwood grant

Katie Tabeling

Delaware State University | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

DOVER — With a grant from the Longwood Foundation, Delaware State University has plans to double its nursing program with a new clinical simulation lab and turning the old Dover library into a rehabilitation center.

The Longwood Foundation awarded DSU $1.75 million to expand the DSU Nursing Program, specifically to support a second clinical simulation lab, launch a pilot program for nursing students and renovations to the library.

Discussions are still early on the exact cost breakdown for each of these, but DSU Nursing Program Chair Agnes Richardson noted that these projects would go a long way to support future nursing students and bolster the pipeline of future nurses.

“I’m just really enthused because some of the students come in and struggle. We care deeply about them and anything we can do to help facilitate their success, it’s a win,” Richardson told the Delaware Business Times.

The old Dover library has sat empty for years and eventually went to the now-defunct Wesley College in 2017 for $1. Now that DSU acquired the private college, the 1-acre library that sits downtown has been skirting along plans for the state’s only Historically Black College’s efforts to create a major foothold in downtown Dover.

In 2022, DSU President Tony Allen outlined plans to turn the 18,000-square-foot library into an interdisciplinary rehabilitation research center for $3 million. That request was not fulfilled, but with the Longwood Foundation grant, Richardson said the library would be shared with occupational therapy, kinesiology and nursing.

“The equipment there will be shared with those disciplines, and the department would be under the University’s Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences,” she added.

The second simulation lab will help students prepare for real world experiences with mannequins to simulate diagnosis or conditions, from pediatrics to obstetrician care. That way students can be better prepared for actual clinicals and understand the risks and the procedures, Richardson added.

Finally, the Longwood Foundation grant also launched a DSU pilot program that would prepare freshmen and sophomores to transition to the curriculum in the last two years and the demands of the field. The grant will cover tuition and supplies for a class of 25 students.

“Students will be exposed to simulation on a basic foundation to get them to really see what it means to be a nurse. A program like this, students will be able to see if this is something they really want to do,” Richardson said. “ But we also want to make sure that they’re at a level that they can perform what is needed in order to progress on and to get admitted to the program.”Throughout the country, there has been a nursing shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic but also due to staffing concerns at existing programs. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that around 78,000 qualified applicants were not accepted to nursing schools across the nation last year.

“There’s a high need for educators, period, because you may not have everything you need sometimes, but you can build upon a student’s skills with mentoring and through bringing about available resources for in services because you also have to stay current.”

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