Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded $100,000 over the next five years to Arkansas Baptist College to help expand its Department of Nursing’s associate degree program. The college’s nursing program is a two-year program with a preferred acceptance tract to Baptist Health College Little Rock, where students can continue their academic journey to become registered nurses.
“Many hospitals across the state are experiencing serious shortages in nurses, which is not a new problem in Arkansas, but one that has greatly accelerated during the pandemic,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “Out of concern for the health and well-being of our members, our organization is continuously looking for ways we can contribute to the improvement of care delivery. We believe our investment in Arkansas Baptist College will enhance the college’s mission to offer more students the opportunity to earn their nursing degrees, which will help address a critical staffing issue in our state.”
Arkansas Baptist College is in the historic Little Rock Central High District on Martin Luther King Drive. Originally named the Minister’s Institute, the college was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptists of Arkansas during their annual convention at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Little Rock.
“Our mission at Arkansas Baptist College is to produce productive citizens,” said Dr. Carlos Clark, president of Arkansas Baptist College. “We can think of no other career path more productive than nursing. The pandemic has not only shown a spotlight on the critical need for healthcare professionals, but the need to diversify their ranks as well. These scholarship funds will help reduce the number one obstacle facing many minority students — student debt. We cannot thank Arkansas Blue Cross enough for this investment and hope it is just the beginning of a long-term partnership.”