As the nation’s Baby Boomers continue to age, there is a critical need for nurses. Maryland is one of four states in the country predicted to experience a shortage of 10,000 registered nurses or more by 2025.
In response, the University of Maryland School of Nursing at the Universities at Shady Grove is working with WorkSource Montgomery (WSM) and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) to combat the projected nursing shortage in Montgomery County, Md., home to USG’s Rockville location.
WSM, a public-private partnership that convenes key stakeholders to create an innovative workforce system approach for sustainable, industry-driven talent solutions in Montgomery County, was awarded a two-year, $200,000 extension of the Rx for Employability grant from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to fund the Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) grant. The grant aims to accelerate the pipeline of Montgomery County residents earning Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees while addressing the critical nursing shortage in the county.
“BSN nurses are now preferred by the majority of hospitals and health care agencies, and most of our graduates seek employment within the region. These monies are an excellent investment in the area’s workforce,” said Rebecca Wiseman, PhD ’93, RN, associate professor and chair of UMSON at USG. “We are very appreciative of the efforts of WorkSource Montgomery and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation in providing scholarship funding for our students. These funds can make the difference as to whether a student can attend our program on a full-time versus part-time basis.”
HIF supports organizations that offer solutions to improve the quality and delivery of health care for Montgomery County residents while providing a high-quality, comprehensive, cost-effective, and sustainable health care system. In 2011, HIF and UMSON began working together, forming an RN-to-BSN workforce pipeline scholarship program. Now, WSM has joined the team, providing funds through the EARN scholarship to supplement tuition support for more than 60 UMSON BSN students at USG.
“We are excited about the opportunity to further expand our BSN pipeline with USG in collaboration with WorkSource Montgomery though the Maryland EARN grant,” said Crystal Townsend, president of HIF. “One of HIF’s investment priorities is to develop a highly skilled health care workforce to meet the health and wellness needs for all Montgomery County residents. The nursing workforce pipeline supported through this collaborative partnership helps us meet this vision for our community.”
Since 2013, UMSON has increased enrollment by 27 percent in its traditional BSN and its RN-to-BSN programs at its Baltimore and USG locations in response to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2010 report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, which calls for increasing the proportion of nurses with a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020. Currently, about 55 percent of nurses nationwide are educated at the baccalaureate level or higher. Funding from the EARN Scholarship is one of many ways UMSON nursing students are being supported in their efforts to complete their baccalaureate education.
“As we work to expand the number of nursing graduates at all levels, we need to increase the number of nurses educated at the baccalaureate level or higher,” said UMSON Dean Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Supporting new students or practicing nurses in obtaining their BSN degrees is critical to ensuring that we will have a nursing workforce that can meet the needs of our patients, their families, and our communities in the years ahead. This scholarship support is an important component of addressing that need, and we are deeply appreciative.”
Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to rise 15 percent nationwide over the next decade.