UMass Nursing School receives $120,000 grant
For the second year in a row, the School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received another welcomed grant which seeks to increase the student enrollment for those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Nursing school has been awarded a $120,000 grant for the purpose of lessening the national nursing shortage by increasing the diversity of students in accelerated training programs.
Last year the Nursing School was the recipient of another grant in the sum of $80,000, which, along with the newest one, was also distributed by the RWJF’s New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.
Launched by the RWJF in conjunction with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the newly received grant was established in order to expand the diversity of students in nursing programs by providing funding for students from underprivileged backgrounds.
Genevieve E. Chandler, associate professor of nursing and project director, who wrote and also received the grant, said that the University had been bestowed this gift the second time around because the RWJF had recognized the lack of diversity among the nursing students, which she said was once a mainly female dominated profession.
“RWJF noticed in the research reports that it is really important that the nursing population be as diverse as the general population,” Chandler said. “Previously we did not have enough diversity among applicants, but after we received the first grant last year, we quadrupled our pool of applicants.”
The new grant will offer scholarships to 12 applicants from underrepresented or financially disadvantaged groups to help them pursue a degree from the nursing program without leaving them or their families financially crippled.
The potential scholarship recipients will be recruited from the UMass campuses in Amherst, Lowell and Dartmouth, the Five Colleges, Baystate Medical Center programs and other local colleges.
The new endowment for the Nursing School has been awarded just a matter of months after the UMass class of 1959 donated $90,000 in scholarships as a reunion gift to the University for nursing students in the doctoral program.
Last June, the donation was given to the University to aid those nursing PhD students who qualify for financial assistance as well as a means to entice new students to the School of Nursing.
Jean E. Swinney, interim dean of the School of Nursing, says this latest grant award is a welcome boost for a program that is on the rise.
“To meet the needs of an increasingly more diverse and older population, it is imperative the School of Nursing increase the number of highly educated new nurses entering our nation’s workforce,” Swinney said.
According to a 2008 report by the AACN, there was just a 2.2 percent enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing programs, which the organization concluded was insufficient due to the projected demand for qualified nurses.
The report also stated that nursing schools in the U.S. had turned away 49,948 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2008 because of an inadequate number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints. Nearly two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey conducted by AACN selected faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.
Faculty shortages are common with universities such as UMass, where all members of the nursing teaching staff must have a Ph.D in order to educate students. According to Chandler, with the grant from the RWJF, more students will be given the financial security to pursue a nursing degree which they can then use to practice in the field or become educators themselves.
Jennifer Heshion can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org