Nurse checking ear

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Backed by $2.5 million in new federal grant funding, Montana State University plans to offer full-ride scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students who enroll in its College of Nursing. 

The Montana Advantage Nursing Scholarships program is open to all American Indian and Alaska Native undergraduates in the nursing program. Participants must demonstrate financial need and be a member of the school’s Caring For Our Own Program — an initiative designed to encourage more Native Americans and Alaska Natives to enter the nursing field — or MSU’s TRIO Student Support Services program.

“The Caring for Our Own Program has a 20-year track record demonstrating that the nursing shortage in rural and tribal areas of Montana can be solved,” Professor Laura Larsson, director of the Caring For Our Own Program, said in a statement. “This funding will accelerate our progress.”

The five-year grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration will support 175 students total beginning in fall of 2020 through 2025. The university expects to have 24 students enrolled in the program this year and increase to 37 students by the end of the program, according to a statement.

By reducing financial barriers for students, the scholarship program aims to increase Native enrollment and graduation rates to “deliver culturally sensitive health care services to American Indian and Alaska Native people living in remote, rural settings and, to a lesser degree, urban areas,” Larsson stated. 

“We know from years of research that having a health care workforce that mirrors the racial or ethnic identities of patients is critical for achieving good health outcomes. Better access to culturally competent, clinically excellent American Indian and Alaska Native nurses will help to meet the health care needs of Montana’s tribal community members,” she said in a statement. 

Sarah Shannon, dean of the College of Nursing, said that the grant-funded scholarships will allow MSU to “double our impact” in supporting additional Native students. 

“We want to help Montana do a better job of providing health care for the Native American people who were its first citizens,” Shannon added. “We are proud that now we will be able to educate even more American Indian and Alaska Native bachelor’s-prepared nurses ready to provide evidence-based, culturally competent care.”

It's December 2020, can you help...

We’re asking our readers for a little help as 2020 draws to a close.  If you can afford it, we hope you’ll consider a one-time donation of $5 or more to help fund our Indigenous-led coverage of important news throughout Indian Country.  Covering the news hasn’t been easy this year, but we believe it’s been critically important given the changes and upheaval we’ve experienced — from COVID-19 and the 2020 Census, to issues of racial equity, efforts to suppress the Native vote, and far too many stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online Staff