A coalition of Maryland hospitals and the state schools that train potential medical staff last week unveiled a $59 million initiative to double the number of nursing students, expand the educational workforce and boost salaries in an effort meant to stave off a looming nursing shortage.
If left unchecked, the Old Line State would be short 10,000 nurses in the next 10 years, said Nancy Fiedler, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Hospital Association. Even though Maryland nursing programs have increased enrollment by 46% over the past five years, they nevertheless turn away roughly 2,000 qualified individuals because of a lack of instructors, Fiedler said. Theres not enough faculty to educate, she said. Theyve pretty much grown as fast and as much as they can.
The plan proposed Nov. 5 would combine about $39 million in state funds with more than $19 million from businesses and not-for-profits.
Universities and community colleges across the state currently train about 2,000 students each year. Under the new proposal, however, that number would expand to about 3,800 a year, requiring 360 additional faculty members and the startup seed money, which the coalition wants to get from public and private sources, Fiedler said.
Embracing this common goalto double the numbersstarting now, will allow us to be ready to address the impact of RN retirements and to meet the health needs of an aging population, said Carol Eustis, dean of the school of health professions at the Community College of Baltimore.
Future costs for the initiative would trade on the savings hospitals accrue from not having to pay temp agencies to staff bedside vacancies. Maryland hospitals, in the aggregate, spend about $50 million each year on such staffing agencies.
MHA President Cal Pierson and Beth Anne Batturs, director of the nursing department at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md., will co-chair the committee that will oversee the initiatives implementation.