Senator Durbin Visits Bradley for Funding Announcement

April 19, 2022

Senator Dick Durbin joined Bradley President Stephen Standifird and other distinguished guests on campus today to announce the recent passage of the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill, including $850,000 that he secured to enhance Bradley's nursing program. These funds will support the operation, purchase and related infrastructure of a high-fidelity multi-patient nursing simulation lab to provide state-of-the-art training and education to nursing students at the university.

Today’s nurses must be trained to react to the increasingly high-pressure clinical challenges in real-time by utilizing the best technology available. This new simulation lab will allow Bradley nursing students to access the use of high-fidelity nursing manikins that will provide medically immersive, life-like simulated medical scenarios in a controlled environment. This technology will help bridge the gap between the skills and content they learn within the classroom and during onsite clinical rotations. Experiential learning has proven to decrease adverse patient events, such as medication errors.

This investment will also allow Bradley University to provide nurse simulation training for local high school students at Manual High School and Peoria (Central) High School, which are part of the Peoria Public Schools system. Students will be invited to participate in a targeted early-learning program using the simulation lab. Bradley anticipates inviting 50-75 students from these high schools on an annual basis.

Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences Jessica Clark, being a first-generation college student, says her first exposure to the healthcare discipline was as a high school student, which set the tone for her future. “That first touchpoint ignited my love for health care. Being able to connect the K-12 system to health professions like nursing, and giving them hands-on opportunities to experience it, will allow us to connect area students to this industry and hopefully inspire them to go on to secondary education in these fields.”

Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat says securing this federal funding represents a win not only for Peoria Public Schools students, but the entire Peoria community. “Bradley will now be able to tap into a local pipeline of high school students for its nursing simulation lab, preparing a diverse future workforce for the thriving medical economy in central Illinois. This program also aligns with our ongoing efforts in Peoria Public Schools of providing meaningful, experiential learning to prepare our students to be successful in 21st century careers.”

This funding also supports an overall growing nurse shortage in Illinois. According to data provided by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulators, approximately 27% of Illinois nurses will retire within the next five years. The nursing shortage in Illinois is further complicated by an aging baby boomer population that will require more complicated health care services. More recently, the stress on health care providers related to COVID-19 is also deterring health professionals from pursuing careers in health care, causing a further shortage in the nursing profession.

As one of Bradley's top majors, its nursing program has gained a strong state and national reputation for developing workforce-ready graduates who consistently score above state and national averages for first-time pass rates of the NCLEX-RN. The high-fidelity multi-patient nursing simulation lab will help the Bradley nursing community stay on that track.

Crowd during press conference

Jessica Clark, Dean of Bradley's College of Education and Health Sciences

Peoria Public Schools Superintendant Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat and Senator Dick Durbin