RAPID CITY, S.D. — Nursing and healthcare worker shortages have impacted every part of the U.S. and South Dakota isn’t immune.
“Our state’s number one need is healthcare practitioners,” said Governor Kristi Noem in her annual budget address on Tuesday, December 7.
In her address, Gov. Noem called on legislators to seek federal approval in funding an expansion project at Black Hills State University’s nursing building in Rapid City and Northern State University in Aberdeen.
The request came as the area and county has seen a drastic need for healthcare workers in the state.
“We have in this state 28,000 open jobs right now and almost 20 percent of those jobs are in the healthcare area of careers,” Gov. Noem said.
BHSU, which partners with South Dakota State University, teaches students through an Associates Degree in Applied Health Science before the future nurses are taught through SDSU’s Nursing Program.
BHSU is seeking $8 million for a 34,000 square foot expansion at the West River Health Science Center that graduates over 70 students a year. This funding will account for over half of the dollars needed for the $15 million project.
“That will allow us to fully move the SDSU Nursing Program into the building and hopefully with time almost double the number of nurses that we produced out of that facility,” said BHSU President Laurie Nichols.
Dr. Nichols said that a major way to get the funds will be through private donations from healthcare businesses in the area and that the new expansion could serve as a teaching space for those same businesses.
The expansion will look to bring to around 50 more nurses along with classrooms, facility offices, collaboratives learning spaces and a simulation center.
All to fill an area need.
“We certainly do need these individuals and nurses in the state,” Gov. Noem said. “I’m hopeful that we can get them trained and into that career as soon as possible.”