SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Illinois State University will open a new location for their nursing school next year in Springfield. 

Officials from ISU’s Mennonite College of Nursing announced plans Tuesday to open a new location in Springfield. Junior and senior students in Springfield would work with Memorial Health for simulation training as well as clinical rotations at the hospital.

ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy said she’s thrilled for the collaboration between the university and Memorial Health. 

“It’s bringing together two, in my opinion, extraordinary institutions,” Goss Kinzy said. “Institutions that are committed to serving the public good, and allow them to work together to face… the shortage of nursing professionals.”

Nationwide, the United States is going through a staffing shortage of nurses. Marsha Prater, Memorial Health’s chief nursing officer, said one key reason is that the Baby Boomers, the largest generation of nurses, are aging out of the workforce and needing nurses in turn. 

“The nation needs to educate in order to meet the needs of our growing healthcare populations,” Prater said. 

Prater said that Illinois is short about 8,000 nurses. According to a report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, over 80,000 qualified applicants were declined admission into a nursing program in 2019 because of lack of clinical space.    

“To turn away capable, willing, altruistic, young people who want to go into this profession because we don’t have enough capacity in our nursing schools nationally and regionally is a heartbreaker,” Prater said. 

ISU officials expect 24-48 juniors in the inaugural class in August 2023. Goss Kinzy also said they will expand their enrollment at their Bloomington-Normal location and double the size of their simulation lab as well.

MCN Dean Judy Neubrander said they will hire faculty and staff for the new location, and will explore hiring dual partnerships with Memorial nurses to teach while continuing to be a nurse.