AURORA – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Aurora University (AU) to discuss the $775,000 in federal funding he secured through Congressionally Directed Spending—commonly known as an earmark—in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 omnibus appropriations bill to provide enhanced hands-on training opportunities for nearly 800 nursing students. This funding will allow the University to obtain new state-of-the-art training technology, including simulation manikins, to teach foundational skills through realistic patient care scenarios.
“Health care workers are critical to the overall health and well-being of our communities,” said Durbin. “As our health heroes to grapple with the devastating impacts of COVID-19, we must step up our support for the current workforce—and the future workforce. Aurora University is doing just that. With the help of the federal funding I secured, AU is able to strengthen and expand learning environments for its nursing students to continue developing the necessary skills to better serve their communities.”
“Ensuring our nursing students are up to date with the medical technologies driving the next generation of care is critical, and I’m grateful Senator Durbin secured funding to help do just that,” said U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11). “I’m also working hard to secure $955,000 to equip three new learning spaces in AU’s Emerging Technologies Learning Lab with new equipment and immersive technology. As long as I represent this area in Congress, I’ll always fight to provide our local schools and universities with the resources our students need to thrive.”
“As a Minority-serving Institution, Aurora University shares Senator Durbin’s commitment to providing educational access to students from underserved communities,” said Aurora University President Rebecca L. Sherrick, PhD. “Senator Durbin has been a longtime supporter of AU and our promise to students that they will receive an exceptional education that will prepare them for the future they envision. This investment in our Nursing program will allow us to prepare our students to provide the highest quality care to patients, while also addressing the critical shortage of nurses in Illinois.”
Aurora University’s Center for Immersive Learning will provide hands-on training opportunities for AU’s nursing students by bridging the theories and knowledge of the classroom with the real world of application. Comprised of two new laboratory spaces for teaching and learning, the Center will include a Skills Lab, where students acquire foundational skills directly connected to patient care, and a Simulation Lab, where students link these foundational skills to critical decision making in highly realistic patient care scenarios. The awarded federal dollars will allow AU to purchase advanced academic technology that directly impacts learning outcomes.
There are almost 195,000 registered nurses in Illinois. More than 52,000 nurses plan to retire in in the next five years, while less than 8,000 nursing students graduate each year. As such, Illinois’ nursing shortage could worsen in the next few years.
Durbin included a provision in the American Rescue Plan to provide an additional $200 million for the Nurse Corps (in addition to $800 million for the National Health Service Corps) to expand scholarship and loan repayment options for nurses and nursing students.