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CHICAGO (WLS) — The University of Illinois at Chicago and City Colleges of Chicago are partnering to address the shortage of nurses and the need for more diversity in the profession.

The institutions announced a new dual enrollment program for nursing students Friday morning at Malcolm X College.

“This is so important because it gives a tremendous opportunity to our graduating nurses,” said David A. Sanders, the president of Malcom X College.

The partnership will make it easier for CCC students to further their education and earn a bachelor of science in nursing at UIC.

“It helps us develop more pathways towards the nursing profession at the bachelor’s degree,” said Michael D. Amiridis, the chancellor of UIC.

The need for nurses is expected to continue to grow. UIC and CCC hope this collaboration will help not only ease the country’s nursing shortage problem but also make sure the nurses reflect the demographics of the patients they serve.

“You are about to close that inequity gap,” said State Representative Mary Flowers, D-Chicago . “You are about to spread healthcare and education and access all around the state.”

According to the 2020 Illinois Nursing Workforce Center survey, white people accounted for 77% of registered nurses in Illinois, followed by the Asian community at 10% and Black people at 9%. Six percent of the nurses surveyed also identified as Latinx.

Contrell Lee was one of more than 70 students graduating at Malcolm X College with an associate degree in nursing. His ultimate goal is to become a physician’s assistant.

“As you know, as a lot of people know, if you look around, it’s not many males in the program, let alone African American males, so that’s a blessing on my behalf to be able to be a part of something like this,” Lee said.

The Englewood resident said he wants to see more faces like his in healthcare to address health disparities in the city.

A report by the Chicago Department of Public Health this year revealed that Black residents have a shorter life expectancy than other groups in the city. Some of the factors include chronic diseases like diabetes.

“From my experience working in healthcare, a lot of African Americans are more receptive to having someone of their background come into the room and care for them,” Lee said.

He said he believes the dual enrollment program will benefit students and the community. For more information about the dual admissions program, click here.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7

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