ROCHELLE, Ill. (WTVO) — With a shortage of nurses around the country and in the stateline, nursing organizations have teamed up to solve the issue.

The coalition of nursing organizations has made $4 million available in scholarship money. The opportunities are for any field of nursing.

Two million dollars was handed out to 200 winners last year. They have doubled those dollars this year, hoping to reach more people this time around.

“Well, we are experiencing a nursing shortage throughout the country, and especially Illinois,” said Stephanie Crawford, nurse practitioner at Rochelle Community Hospital.

Rochelle Community Hospital has dealt with the shortage of nurses like the rest of the country. It currently has almost a dozen open positions.

“We have a lot of nurses that have retired, and we don’t have enough people coming into the pipeline to fill those people that are retiring,” Crawford said. “We also lost a lot of nurses during the COVID pandemic, and, so we don’t have enough people to take care of our patients in the hospitals, our patients in long term care or nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health. All of those places are greatly impacted.”

Crawford is also the president of the Illinois Society for Advanced Nursing, where them and other organizations have teamed up to provide scholarships to fix this issue. The main requirements are to attend an Illinois school, followed with a year of working in the state.

“It’s important to let people know this is available to them for any nursing degree,” Crawford said. “If they want to become an LPN, if they want to become an RN with an associate’s degree, if they want to get into nursing with a baccalaureate degree. There’s also scholarship money for those pursuing master’s degree level nursing.”

While $2 million helped pay expenses for 200 recipients last year, that funding was doubled this year in hopes of helping even more people purse nursing.

“It is a very rewarding job. It can be very exhausting, it can be tiring sometimes, but I love my job, I love coming to work every day, I love my patients,” Crawford said. “And, when you can help somebody achieve their goals, their health care goals, it’s such a fulfilling feeling.”

Those looking to apply for the scholarship have until April 30.