INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Ivy Tech Community College today announced the institution has been named a finalist for an Award of Excellence from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges representing more than 1,000 institutions and nearly 12 million students.

Ivy Tech has been recognized in the Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership category for its collaboration with the Indiana Hospital Association and the IU Health system to address Indiana's critical nursing workforce shortage. AACC will announce the winner of the award at an April 8 gala during its annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Ivy Tech’s size and scope across the state allow our institution to play a vital role in solving Indiana’s most urgent economic and workforce challenges, and no challenge has been more pressing than responding to the state’s nursing shortage,” said Dr. Sue Ellspermann, president, Ivy Tech Community College. “Hundreds more skilled nurses are serving in Indiana hospitals and health care settings each year thanks to our incredible partnership with Indiana hospitals, and we are thrilled that this collaboration has been recognized at a national level by the American Association of Community Colleges.”

“For decades, IU Health has trusted Ivy Tech to supply our workforce with high-quality, nursing talent needed to serve the millions of patients seen each year within our system,” said Dennis Murphy, president and chief executive officer, IU Health, and Jason Gilbert, executive vice president and chief nurse executive, IU Health, in a letter of support. “Indiana is projected to need an additional 5,000 nurses by 2031 to meet the growing healthcare demands of an aging population. We could not respond to this challenge without our partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, and we believe our work together in Indiana should serve as a national model for community colleges that seek to partner with health care providers to address the critical nursing workforce shortage.”

Ivy Tech is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s top producer of associate-level nurses. One in three registered nurses in Indiana received their degree from Ivy Tech.

In 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ivy Tech was forced to turn away more than 300 qualified students from its nursing program due in part to state board of nursing regulations that applied to postsecondary institutions. Ivy Tech and IU Health joined a statewide coalition convened by the IHA to work with the Indiana General Assembly to pass House Enrolled Act 1003, a bill that granted Ivy Tech more flexibility in administering its nursing program and expand the number of students it serves.

As nursing shortages reached a crisis level, Ivy Tech was there, leading the way with an actionable plan to meet our state’s workforce challenges.

– Brian Tabor, President of the Indiana Hospital Association

“In collaboration with hospitals, Ivy Tech rapidly expanded its capacity to grow the pipeline of highly skilled nurses in communities large and small across the state. Through their leadership, we are truly ‘nursing Indiana back to health’ by ensuring that Hoosier patients will have the nurses they need to care for them for years to come.”

IU Health awarded Ivy Tech an $8.75 million grant to hire more adjunct nursing faculty, tutors and retention staff—many of whom are employed by IU Health—to ensure alignment in curriculum and instruction and connect students with career opportunities with Indiana’s largest and most comprehensive health system. To date, 29 faculty positions and 15 tutor and retention specialist positions at Ivy Tech have been filled by IU Health staff.

In 2023, the Indiana General Assembly appropriated $9 million annually for the 2023-2025 budget biennium to support Ivy Tech’s nursing program expansion. Ivy Tech is directing this funding toward expenses such as instructor salaries, instructional materials and healthcare training equipment, as well as support services to improve nursing retention rates and help students prepare for the nursing licensure exam (NCLEX).

Though the expansion effort is in its early stages, Ivy Tech has created 766 new seats for its nursing program and is projected to grow by more than 800 seats by summer 2024. The student pass rate on the nursing licensure (NCLEX-RN) exam in 2023 increased by 7.3% from the previous year to 90.55%—indicating Ivy Tech’s ability to scale its nursing program without sacrificing quality.

“Ivy Tech is grateful to the Indiana Legislature, the Indiana Hospital Association, IU Health and our other health care partners across the state for their confidence in our institution to help address Indiana’s nursing workforce crisis,” said Ellspermann. “The nascent results of our nursing expansion effort demonstrate the quality of an Ivy Tech education and our ability to make an incredible impact on our state and in the lives of Hoosiers.”

After graduation, more than 90% of Ivy Tech nursing students work in Indiana hospitals or hospitals that serve Indiana residents, and within twelve months of graduating, 60% of students say they are pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or another credential in the healthcare field.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.