University of Alaska Anchorage receives federal funds to expand state health care workforce

The grant will fund construction of new laboratories and classrooms, which will allow the university to graduate an additional 100 healthcare workers annually.

The University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health has received $4 million in federal funds to help expand Alaska’s health care workforce.

The grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will fund the construction of new laboratories and classrooms. That expansion will allow the university to graduate an additional 100 health care workers annually.

Kendra Sticka is an Associate Dean at the college. At a press conference on the UAA campus on Thursday, she said the funding is aimed at health care professions that support doctors and nurses.

“This project would expand the learning facilities for certified nursing assistants, surgical technologists, and diagnostic medical sonographers, allowing us to nearly double the capacity for graduates in these programs over the next several years,” she said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo speaks to students and staff at the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health. (Photo by Katie Anastas/Alaska Public Media)

University president Pat Pitney said the funding will help grow the state’s workforce from within and reduce out-of-state recruitment costs.

“This investment will address gaps in the state training and improve equity and diversity in our health care workforce,” Pitney said. “It will also enhance distance delivery to bring education and training opportunities.”

The university was one of 60 applicants for the grant, which is funded through the American Rescue Plan. Alejandra Castillo is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

“Here in Alaska, you were experiencing significant staff shortages in the health care sector before the pandemic hit, which exacerbated the departure of many health care workers to the lower 48 states,” Castillo said.

According to the project proposal, the new construction and renovations could be completed as soon as fall 2023.

Alaska Public Media

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