University Hospitals and Kent State University are partnering to address a local and national nursing shortage by offering financial assistance and more access for some students.
Beginning this May, UH will provide 20 senior nursing majors at Kent State $12,000 each in exchange for agreeing to work for UH for at least two years after graduation.
As part of the program, the Cleveland-based hospital system also will recruit experienced UH nurses to serve as clinical instructors and increase the number of rotation slots available at UH facilities for KSU nursing students.
Because of the partnership, Kent State will increase its enrollment in the program by 80 students each year.
Kent offers a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program at its Kent, Stark, Trumbull, Salem and Geauga campuses. The UH scholars program is available to students in the four-year undergraduate nursing program and the second-degree accelerated bachelor's degree program (a 15-month program) at any of the Kent campuses with the program, Kent College of Nursing spokeswoman Kathleen Norman said.
“The University Hospitals Scholars program will provide critical financial support for students, diverse clinical sites in the University Hospital system, and expand the opportunity for more students to experience the excellent education offered at Kent State University College of Nursing,” said Barbara Broome, dean of Kent’s College of Nursing. “It will provide diverse clinical sites, employment opportunities and additional financial support for committed students.”
The Center for Health Affairs estimates that by 2020, Northeast Ohio will need at least another 2,850 nurses to care for the rapidly aging local population. Nationally, those estimates rise to nearly 1 million additional nurses needed to adequately care for the total number of patients.
The shortage is due to retirements, the severity of patients' medical problems and the demands of increased health care technology, officials said.
To handle the increasingly complex health care needs of an older patient population, hospitals are looking for more nurses who have at least a four-year degree. The federal Institute of Medicine has issued a recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a baccalaureate degree by 2020. Northeast Ohio’s percentage is approaching 40 percent, officials said.
For the past four years, Kent State's undergraduate nursing classes across all campuses have averaged 443 graduates each year, Norman said. “We have not been able to increase our enrollment due to limited clinical placements. This program will allow us to increase enrollment by an additional 80 students,” she said.
Kent does not have any other collaborations with other hospital systems that provide financial support, Norman said.
Students are admitted into the professional sequence in the nursing program during their sophomore year at Kent, said Tracey Motter, associate dean of undergraduate programs for Kent's College of Nursing.
It is a very competitive process, and some students who would be great nurses have not been able to get into the program because there weren’t enough professional clinical opportunities, Motter said.
“This is the critical need that we’ve had,” said Motter, a registered nurse for 33 years. “This has been what has been needed for a long time to increase enrollment and produce more nurses. A lot of nurses are going back to school and getting advanced degrees, but it leaves a hole at the bedside. As the population is aging, there is a great need there.”
UH spokeswoman Lynn Novelli said, “UH employs a large number of Kent State nursing graduates.”
UH includes flagship University Hospitals of Cleveland, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, UH Portage Medical Center in Ravenna and other community hospitals throughout Northeast Ohio.
The hospital system has a similar program with Cleveland State University College of Nursing for BNS students and a program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) for students who have an associate’s degree in nursing and are pursuing a BSN, Novelli said.
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher