TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – A new initiative attempting to boost the nursing workforce in the Tri-Cities region is underway.

Ballad Health and East Tennessee State University have teamed up to create the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement, which will be ready to launch in October.

The move comes after labor shortages nationwide have left hospitals struggling.

On Wednesday, nearly a dozen regional colleges and universities came together to develop strategies to get more people interested in the nursing profession.

“When you don’t have enough nurses, everybody feels that,” said Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine. “When you go to the hospital or try to get in to a doctor, when you see wait times as long as they have been, it breaks your heart because that is not what we set out to do.”

“It is going to take all of the institutions rowing in that same direction to address the workforce challenges that we have in the nursing profession,” said East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland.

Levine said that the initiative has also received state funding and is being implemented statewide.