(left to right) College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Dean Jimmy Ishee; Conway Regional CEO Matt Troup; Conway Regional Chief Nursing Officer Angie Longing; UCA School of Nursing Director Susan Gatto; Cornell Malbia, member of the UCA Board of Trustees and chairman of the Conway Regional Board of Directors; and UCA President Houston Davis


The University of Central Arkansas and Conway Regional Health System announced their latest partnership today, which is aimed at addressing shortages in the numbers of registered nurses.

The Conway Regional Health Foundation is providing a total of $390,000, with $240,000 for student scholarships and $150,000 for faculty development and School of Nursing initiatives.

The “Partnership for Clinical Excellence,” or PCE, will award a $2,500 scholarship to an average of eight students in the UCA School of Nursing. Funds will be granted per semester for four semesters for students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“UCA continues to be a leader in producing exceptional clinical professionals for the healthcare industry in Arkansas, and we recognize the growing need for quality nursing graduates. We are uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand in our state and region,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “Our leadership role in nursing will only increase as we partner in growth and development with the industry.”

“As longtime neighbors and partners working together to positively impact this community and state, Conway Regional is proud to be a part of the solution to the growing demand for quality nurses. This partnership with UCA will ensure that we can continue to provide the community and our patients with excellent and compassionate care for years to come,” Conway Regional CEO Matt Troup said. “Health care providers across the country are looking for ways to tackle this critical nursing shortage, and we see this investment in education as an important step along with the added benefit of a focus on clinical best practice and other areas such as research and staff development.”

The January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality includes a report titled “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast.” This report indicated a projected nursing shortage between 2009 and 2030, with the most acute shortages in the South and West.

Susan Gatto, director of the UCA School of Nursing, said, “UCA and Conway Regional have a long history of partnering. This latest initiative not only strengthens our partnership, but it is also a local approach to the national issue of the nursing shortage. Together, we can begin to address this issue.”

Nursing students will be admitted with the standard admissions requirements in the UCA School of Nursing. The university and Conway Regional will jointly select students for the PCE scholarships. PCE students must commit to working for Conway Regional for a minimum of two years after graduation and passing licensure requirements.

UCA will also receive support for nursing faculty development and School of Nursing initiatives through the Nursing Enhancement Fund, a $150,000 grant with $50,000 paid annually over three years.

“This is a unique approach to providing affordable access to a nursing degree. As a UCA nursing graduate myself, I understand the challenges faced not only by the health care provider in great need of nurses, but also by the educational institutions striving to produce more graduates to meet the demand of the market. Our hope is that this new program can help more students pursue their dream of becoming a nurse,” Conway Regional Chief Nursing Officer Angie Longing said.

“Nationally, and here in the Southern region, the nursing shortage is augmented by the shortage of nursing faculty. In fact, the shortage of nursing faculty is just as critical as the shortage of nurses, if not more so,” Gatto said. “This initiative will help support the retention of current faculty and recruitment of other faculty here at UCA.” 

Since its establishment in 1967, the UCA School of Nursing has played a leadership role in nursing education. Programs offered include the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Masters of Science in Nursing and the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Consistently responding to the needs of students, changes in health care and education standards, UCA’s nursing degree programs ensure that students are prepared for a quickly evolving health care environment.

Located across the street from UCA, Conway Regional Health System provides complete health care services to the growing communities of north Central Arkansas, centered on a 150-bed acute care medical center. The not-for-profit medical center serves patients with comprehensive care including cardiovascular surgery, neurospine surgery, orthopedic surgery and women’s services, among other services. Additional components of the health system include Conway Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, a home health agency, an all-digital outpatient imaging center, an outpatient surgery center, senior mental health services, eight primary care clinics, an after-hours clinic and one of the largest hospital-owned fitness centers in the nation. More than 1,800 babies were born last year at Conway Regional and the Emergency Department is one of the busiest in Arkansas with more than 32,000 visits in 2017. Conway Regional is an independent health system governed by a local volunteer board and managed by CHI St. Vincent. Learn more at www.ConwayRegional.org.