EL RENO, Okla.  (KFOR) – Redlands Community College and Western Oklahoma State College programs will get a boost of help in resources after being awarded a five-year federal grant totaling $2.75 million designed to address the healthcare shortage.

Redlands, designated a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTI) program, partnered with Western to submit a proposal for the NASNTI Part A Cooperative Arrangement Development Grant and is set to use the funding to increase the number of nursing graduates and expand tribal partnerships in their 10-county service areas.

“Redlands has been a historically strong NASNTI partner, and we’re excited about this opportunity to use this funding to collaborate with Western,” said Redlands President Jack Bryant.

According to The Commonwealth Fund, Oklahoma’s health system is ranked 49th in the nation. Oklahoma also ranks 5th for states with the most rural hospital closures since 2005, and nationally, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, over 100,000 nurses left positions in hospitals in 2021.

“This NASNTI grant and partnership with Western will provide a significant boost to initiatives recently put in place to address a growing shortage of nurses in Oklahoma. This initiative not only provides the ability to train more nurses, but address a critical shortage in rural and tribal areas of Oklahoma,” said Redlands Board of Regents Chair Janie Thompson.

The NASNTI grant with Redlands will allow both colleges to join forces and expand current efforts designed for Native American and low-income students, and is 100% funded by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI) program.