MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Chipola College is looking to further expand its nursing program.

A $500,000 grant from the state legislature will help facilitate this growth.

“A nursing program is very specific,” Chipola College President Dr. Sarah Clemmons said. “It is very expensive to offer. You have to have not just normal classrooms but you’ve got to have classrooms that are designed specifically for healthcare programs.”

Patient simulators are necessary for modern nursing programs but can take up quite a bit of valuable classroom space.

“We have adapted our teaching to be more hands-on,” patient simulator coordinator Katie Hayes said. “We have a state-of-the-art simulation center where we are able to provide a lot of those learning opportunities. Because we are not staying in the classroom and teaching our students from a textbook; we are putting them in situations and hands-on scenarios, we need more space.”

The college has a spare building that has been sitting vacant since Hurricane Michael.

The grant money will be used to equip the building with healthcare capabilities.

“Extra money like this gives us a way to accomplish things that we otherwise could not and we are just delighted to be able to do this and are going to be able to serve our students and the healthcare agencies in this area,” Clemmons said.

The expanded nursing program should be ready to go by the Fall of 2023.