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The University of Utah's College of Nursing, battling the most critical nursing shortage in state history, received new ammunition Monday.

Officials of Intermountain Health Care and two of the corporation's hospitals - LDS and Primary Children's - presented the college with a check for $50,000.The money will be used to hire new faculty to teach the burgeoning number of would-be nurses who've been turned away from Utah's understaffed nursing schools.

"It's an important gift to the U. College of Nursing," said Sue Huether, interim associate dean for academic affairs. "We've more applicants than we've been able to admit to the program, and private gifts, such as the one from Intermountain Health Care, provides us an opportunity to increase our enrollment that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise."

The 1989 Nursing Resources Study showed that Utah will experience a 12 percent shortfall in registered nurses by 1993.

The state will need, but not have, 1,571 nurses if current trends continue.

While the interest in baccalaureate nursing programs is high in Utah - with three qualified applicants applying for each educational opening - enrollments in baccalaureate and graduate degree registered nursing programs has not increased significantly because of faculty shortages, the study found.

A recent survey of current and projected needs for faculty in Utah schools of nursing indicate there are 23 positions available in 1989-90, and that 113 new faculty members will be required by the year 1994-95.

Increased funding amounting to $550,000 for expansion of the student base and for graduate faculty recruitment and retention was budgeted by the State Board of Regents and appropriated in the 1989 legislative session.

The funding was made available to state colleges of nursing on July 1, 1989.

With the funding, the U. expanded enrollments in its generic baccalaureate and master's degree programs. Weber State College expanded its licensed practical nurse and associate degree programs with a baccalaureate degree completion program. Salt Lake Community College expanded its licensed practical nurse program with a two-year registered nurse associate degree program.

Additionally, new nursing programs have been established at the College of Eastern Utah in Price and Utah Valley Community College in Orem.

Now private industry is giving nursing programs an additional shot in the arm.

In June, IHC and Cottonwood Hospital Medical Center presented a $20,000 grant to Westminster College's nursing school. Other IHC-owned and operated hospitals, in cooperation with the foundation, are expected to give financial support to nursing schools in their areas in the future.