HHS announced a series of more than $30 million in grants--aimed at increasing nursing school enrollment and improving education--to help ease an emerging national nursing shortage.
"If more people don't choose careers in nursing, it will become more and more difficult for patients to get quality healthcare," HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said in announcing the grants. Thompson identified the nursing shortage as a critical issue early in his tenure.
More than $22 million of the grant money, from HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, has been awarded to colleges, universities and other organizations to increase the number of nurses with advanced degrees and to improve quality of care for elderly patients.
Specifically, 324 grants, worth a total of more than $18.5 million, will support graduate education for registered nurses studying to become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse educators and nurse administrators. Click here for a full list of those grant recipients.
In addition, 71 grants totaling more than $3 million will aid RNs enrolled full-time in a master's-degree nurse anesthesia program. Nine grants totaling about $225,000 will beawarded to nursing schools to provide senior nursing students with hands-on clinical training in caring for the elderly. Three other grants totaling about $760,000 will help schools and providers develop effective geriatric nursing education programs. Click here for a list of recipients.
Meanwhile, applications are due June 14 for $8 million in grants designated to repay educational loans of clinical-care nurses who agree to work for two or three years in designated public or nonprofit health facilities.
Texas Wesleyan University, which was awarded $268,586 for its nurse anesthesia graduate program, has received federal grants for nursing previously but never as substantially, program Director Kay Sanders said. Sanders plans to distribute half of the grant to the program's 104 senior students and disperse the remainder among the program's 99 other students.
Although the funds are a one-time boost for current students, extending the grant program for several years would encourage more nursing school applicants. ''If applicants know this kind of funding is available to them, it will be much better,'' Sanders said.