UNI Provost Jose Herrera. (Phot form Regents Meeting)

All three of Iowa’s state universities will now have nursing programs after the Board of Regents gave the go-ahead for the University of Northern Iowa to start one.

UNI Provost, Jose Herrera, says there’s no doubt the program will help fill gaps in the health care system. “The need for nurses in Iowa and nationally is critical. Many major medical centers, centers and rural hospitals are forced to close entire floors to the shortage of nurses,” he says.

Herrera says patients suffer from the lack of nurses. “Many patients who require hospitalization spent several hours in the emergency room waiting for a bed. The nursing shortage results in higher patient caseload and significant burnout and nurses, further exacerbating the problem,” Herrera says. He says data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing show that more than 8,000 qualified applicants were denied entry to programs just in the Midwest last year due to a lack of space.

Herrera says UNI’s plans have broad support. “All healthcare providers but particularly those in rural settings have made it abundantly clear they’re in desperate need of additional graduates that we can provide,” he says. “Leadership from the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing at Iowa State University’s nursing program have provided fruitful conversations to guide our efforts and we hope to continue to benefit from their advice and partnership.”

Herrera made his comments during a presentation to the Board of Regents, which approved the new program during their meeting last week. UNI will seek accreditation of the nursing program with the hope of getting it started on the Cedar Falls campus in the fall of 2024.