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Free nursing school offered by CHI Health in partnership with Purdue Global

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Current CHI Health employees or their friends or family members can get up to two years of nursing school paid for by the regional health network.

As part of its "Grow Our Own Nurses" partnership, CHI Health will cover the costs of tuition, books and fees for nursing students pursuing an associate of science in nursing degree at Purdue Global.

While the program is largely online, students will be required to travel to Lincoln for hands-on learning at Purdue Global's new Simulation Center for Innovative Excellence at CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

The new center allows nursing students to work with "high-fidelity" manikins that mimic symptoms such as bleeding or vomiting, and allows those individuals to work under the close supervision of an instructor.

Students enrolled in the "Grow Our Own Nurses" program will also gain experience in clinical rotations at the Lincoln hospital.

Once those students pass the registered nurse licensing exam in their state, they will be required to commit to a full-time nursing position at a CHI Health hospital for three years.

Tim Plante, CHI Health's chief nursing officer, said the "Grow Our Own Nurses" program is an effort to build a nursing pipeline as health care facilities across the country face a workforce shortage.

According to the Status of the Nebraska Health Care Workforce, a study done by the University of Nebraska Medical Center every two years, the Cornhusker state expects a shortage of 5,435 nurses by 2025, driven by retirements and others leaving the workforce.

CHI Health, which is headquartered in Omaha and has 28 hospitals and 200 clinics across the region, said it hopes to help train those interested in nursing to close the gap.

"We know cost is often a barrier to education," Plante said in a news release. "By paying the way for these students, we are giving them the opportunity to start a fulfilling career while also ensuring we have a strong future workforce."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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