Niagara University has received a $400,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation that will support the critical profession of nursing through innovation in education, funded research, and community partnerships to advance public health in the city of Niagara Falls, in Niagara County, and throughout Western New York. Funding will be used to enhance technology in the university’s simulation and skills labs; develop expanded certifications to create new pathways to the nursing and allied health professions; and facilitate high-impact training for community health instructors.

“This grant will enable Niagara University’s College of Nursing to enhance our educational programs and make them available to a greater number of students, as well as optimize the use of our Nursing Simulation Center and our collaborations within the community,” said Dr. Christine Verni, dean of the college. “These initiatives will advance our ongoing efforts to improve health outcomes regionally and beyond.”

The initiative, “Practice Innovations to Support a Resilient, Inclusive & Equitable Nurse Workforce,” will enrich the academic preparation of students through innovative and cutting-edge practice work in the college’s simulation and skills labs. Utilizing simulated patients, virtual reality, and high-fidelity mannequins, real-life scenarios on topics such interacting with individuals with a primary language other than English, caring for LGBTQIA persons with medical conditions that conflict with their preferred gender identity, and cultural sensitivity surrounding end-of-life, will be replicated, giving students increased hands-on opportunities with these and other scenarios they likely will encounter in their practice.

In addition, the initiative seeks to reduce disparities and increase equitable health outcomes within the community by integrating a greater focus on public health needs and the social determinants of health into the nursing curriculum. It will also facilitate train-the-trainer opportunities and expanded educational pathways to allied health careers through strategic partnerships with local healthcare organizations.

The project also includes on-campus training for mental health first aid instructors, with a focus on nursing students, faculty, and clinical partners. This component builds on the work the university has done over the past two years to substantially expand the capacity and knowledge of human service professionals to meet the rising need for mental health services for children and families, as well as for university students.

Niagara’s College of Nursing offers a nursing degree completion program for registered nurses, a four-year bachelor of science degree, and an accelerated B.S. in nursing, all of which are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college also maintains a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Center, which provides hands-on opportunities for students while supporting traditional classroom learning and clinical practice experiences, and a skills lab.