Independence Blue Cross in Pennsylvania has committed to spending $2.49 million over the next three years in scholarship funds for postgraduate study to train nursing instructors and undergraduate students who want to become nurses.
G. Fred DiBona Jr., IBC's president and CEO, said the company was contributing $1.74 million over three years to the IBC Nurse Scholars Program to increase the number of nursing instructors in southeastern Pennsylvania. In addition, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation is contributing $510,000 to the program for graduate students.
DiBona also announced that IBC was committing an additional $750,000 over the next three years to the Nursing Education Initiative in southeastern Pennsylvania, which will provide financial assistance to aspiring undergraduate nursing students. The undergraduate program is run by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation.
"We knew that the nursing shortage poses a severe threat to the future of our health care and so we brought in representatives of the nursing community and asked how IBC could help address the problem system," DiBona said in a news release. "Their answer was loud and clear: 'We need teachers.'"
DiBona said the deans of local nursing schools said they could accept more students for their programs but lack sufficient qualified faculty to teach them.
"By focusing a large portion of our investment on attracting new teachers," DiBona said, "we believe we ultimately can put more nurses on the front lines right here in Southeastern Pennsylvania -- and more nurses corresponds to better care."
Since 1995, according to the IBC and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, baccalaureate nursing programs were forced to turn away more than 11,000 qualified students due to limited faculty, clinical sites and classroom space.