Nursing School aims to deepen, diversify
Joint effort takes two-pronged approach
By Dan Heuchert
of Health System Marketing & Communications
nurse cares for a baby in the newborn intensive care unit.
is currently experiencing a 10 percent shortage in its nursing
workforce, and that figure is expected to rise to 36.4 percent
by 2020, threatening access to health care across the Commonwealth,
according to figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services.
School of Nursing
has received a three-year, $651,153 federal grant to fund a collaborative
effort aimed at deepening and diversifying the local pool of professional
nurses. Most of the funding, from the Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration, will boost faculty
resources at the Nursing School and at Piedmont Virginia Community
hospitals, including the U.Va. Medical Center, Martha Jefferson
Hospital, Augusta Medical Center and Western State Hospital, will
also provide resources to support the clinical training of additional
is the first time that a partnership in problem-solving for nursing
has included the U.Va. Medical Center plus the regional health-care
institutions that are the consumers of nursing education,
said Judith K. Sands, associate professor of nursing and project
director for the grant.
grant seeks to increase the number of professional-level nurses
through two paths: increasing admission to a two-year program
in the School of Nursing for those who have received bachelors
degrees in other fields; and encouraging certified nurse aides,
or CNAs, to seek additional training through courses at PVCC,
which will offer new night and weekend classes.
of both the U.Va. Nursing School and PVCCs program are qualified
to sit for a licensing examination to become registered nurses.
grant will boost the Nursing Schools annual enrollment of
second-degree candidates from 32 to 48.
is the 13th year that the school has offered a second-degree program
to students with bachelors degrees in other fields. The
grant will also allow the school to revamp its curriculum to make
it more attractive for working students, although it will still
require a full-time commitment, Sands said.
students are older than those who enter the school as first-years,
she said, and a higher percentage remain in the community after
earning nursing degrees.
grant also seeks to identify promising CNAs in the local community,
encourage them to enter PVCCs nursing program and offer
them mentorship. CNA positions are considered entry-level on this
nursing career ladder, with most CNAs having a high school diploma
and receiving their training either in vocational education programs
or through programs offered by some hospitals.
schedule expansion will allow it to graduate an additional 20
to 30 registered nurses each year, most of whom will remain in
the local community, said PVCC President Frank Friedman.