Grant Creates New Nursing Opportunities at ATU-Ozark

ATU-Ozark Nursing File Photo
File photograph of an Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus nursing student participating in a simulation exercise.

Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus has received a $327,208 grant from the Arkansas Linking Industry to Growing Nurses (ALIGN) program through the Arkansas Department of Commerce.

The grant funds were announced by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald and Cody Waits, director of Arkansas Workforce Connection, on Monday, May 13.

“​ATU-Ozark is extremely grateful for the opportunity to expand and improve our excellent practical nursing program,” said Dr. Sheila R. Jacobs, ATU-Ozark chancellor. “We look forward to working with our regional and state health care partners to help fill the job market needs.”

According to a news release from the Arkansas Office of the Governor, the ALIGN program is “designed to upskill nursing professionals, expand nursing apprenticeship programs and increase nurse educator recruitment and retention.”

As a result of the grant, ATU-Ozark will seek to increase participation in its practical nursing program through partnerships with Johnson County Health and Rehab as well as Northwest Medical Center.

“These partnerships and the funds from the ALIGN grant will provide necessary support for the practical nursing program as we expand to provide more career opportunities for members of the community,” said Blaine Snyder, practical nursing program chair at ATU-Ozark Campus. “In turn, having more nursing graduates helps fill area nursing positions and benefits the residents of the Arkansas River Valley. We are grateful for this opportunity and our community and clinical partners.”

Snyder explained the ALIGN funds will be used to pay for technology, purchase furniture and compensate additional faculty to support additional students within the program. ATU-Ozark practical nursing faculty will be supported through the ALIGN grant with additional training in best practices in nursing education, including how to better utilize simulation to maximize ATU-Ozark practical nursing graduates’ preparation to enter the workforce.

“Additional funds will be available to help with testing to become medication assistants for students interested in that certification after meeting the eligibility requirements,” said Snyder.

As an additional feature, Northwest Medical Center will partner with the ATU-Ozark practical nursing program to provide a clinical instructor at its facility to support the growth in students.

The benefits of the ALIGN grant funds for ATU-Ozark will extend to students at Arkansas Tech Career Center (ATCC).

“The additional grant funds from this will be used to pay for the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) test for ATCC students who have completed the platform courses for the PN program and apply to the PN program in their last semester of high school,” said Snyder. “Funds will also be available to take the HESI (Health Education Systems Inc.) for students who complete the PN program and are applying to the LPN-to-RN program for the next academic year.”

Learn more about the ATU-Ozark practical nursing program at