Nursing shortage the focus of Community Health, Ivy Tech partnership

Nov. 23—Ivy Tech Kokomo has more students than it can admit into its nursing program.

The abundance of applicants shows the program's reputation is strong in attracting prospective students. However, a waiting list of students does nothing to solve a nationwide nursing shortage.

Ivy Tech and Community Health Network are looking to change that.

The two organizations announced a new partnership earlier this month that will expand the nursing programs at four Ivy Tech locations, including Kokomo.

The aim is to create direct pipelines between Ivy Tech locations and Community Health facilities. Locally, this will look like Community Howard accepting 10 Ivy Tech nursing students. Those students will complete their clinical hours at Community Howard.

Clinical adjunct faculty will work with and educate students at the hospital.

"Adjunct faculty is one of the biggest hurdles we have," said Kelly Williams, Ivy Tech Kokomo's dean of nursing.

When there aren't enough clinical adjunct faculty, it adds a challenge for students who need to complete their clinical hours. Finding facilities that allow students to complete their rotations has also been a challenge.

Students will be able to be paid as patient care techs after the first clinical rotation. Community Health Network has pledged to offer full-time employment to students after they graduate. This includes Community Howard.

"We hope they find home at Community Howard," said Jen Hindman, vice president, hospital administrator. "When you're looking at what the needs are, there is a really important need for a pipeline of nurses."

Ivy Tech and Community Health will work together to place students for three years, and the number of students admitted is expected to increase each year. Rollout could begin this spring.

The partnership comes with a donation from Community Health that will cover tuition, course materials and clinical resources for admitted students. The donation will cover up to 225 students.

Ninety percent of Ivy Tech's nursing graduates stay in Indiana. The community college awards more undergraduate nursing degrees than any other Indiana institution, according to a news release.

"There's a deep need for health care workers, especially nurses, in the community," said Ivy Tech Chancellor Ethan Heicher. "This has an enormous ripple effect in the community."

Jamie Phillippe, vice president, chief nurse executive, at Community Howard, said she hopes providing students a tangible plan — clinicals at a local hospital leading to employment — will improve retention.

"If there is a good vision for students, they are likely to succeed," she said. "It's a commitment to say we will offer you employment."

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.