During the Covid-19 pandemic, IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod brought higher education leaders in the region together in regular meetings to share challenges and solutions. These meetings have led to continued communication and collaboration.
When the opportunity to apply for the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) funding from the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) arose, it became clear that the schools could seize their strength in numbers. Together, the institutions stood a better chance of securing funding than any of the individual entities alone.
Leaders with health sciences programs came together to form the Regional Higher Education Talent Pipeline and Partnership Consortium. IU South Bend, Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart, Saint Mary’s College, and Marian University’s Ancilla College were part of this consortium. The project was approved under READI’s Talent Development category for the full amount sought: $1,151,370.
“We were already meeting regularly, so we were able to mobilize efficiently to secure READI funding when the opportunity arose,” Elrod said. “The group proposal allowed each institution to identify its core needs related to healthcare and advanced technology.”
IU South Bend’s portion of the funding will help continue progress on the Dwyer Healthcare Simulation Center, a high-tech simulation facility for the campus’s radiography and nursing programs. Ivy Tech prioritized its Mobile Career and Certifications Laboratory, a cutting-edge platform for advanced technology programs. Marian University’s Ancilla College procured equipment to enhance its Leep Family Nursing Skills Lab. Saint Mary’s College bolstered its holdings of equipment to be used in its interdisciplinary learning and clinic space for speech language pathology and nursing students.
The consortium proposal also included funding for the launch of a Healthcare Talent Partnership, which is an initiative being led by IU South Bend. This partnership will bring together higher education, healthcare, K-12 schools, and economic development organizations to address the healthcare talent attraction and retention crisis in the South Bend-Elkhart Region.
“We must ensure that our region has sufficient healthcare professionals so that we can always meet the demand, and keep everyone healthy,” Elrod said. “The pandemic made it clear that short staffing in a public health crisis can have catastrophic consequences. Modern facilities will help attract increased enrollments and, consequently, better healthcare options will help make our region more appealing to any citizen.”