College of Notre Dame receives $888,000 nursing grant

College of Notre Dame of Maryland has received an $888,000 grant from the state’s Health Services Cost Review Commission through the Nurse Support Program II to increase the number of master’s-prepared nursing faculty. The grant will enable College of Notre Dame to expand its Master of Science in Nursing program to Higher Education and Conference Center (HECC) in Harford County and Anne Arundel Medical Center.

The grant’s goal is to graduate an additional 50-60 students with Master of Science in Nursing degrees with a focus on Leadership in Nursing Education over the next five years.

College of Notre Dame’s MSN program is a 20-month accelerated course of study that will provide nurses with the master’s credentials they need for full- or part-time nursing faculty positions.

Five cohorts of 12-15 students will be recruited for study at HECC, with the first cohort anticipated to start in January 2010. Four cohorts of 12-15 students will be recruited for the Anne Arundel Medical Center program, with the first cohort anticipated to start in January 2011.

College of Notre Dame currently has RN to BSN cohorts studying at HECC (including Upper Chesapeake Health nurses) and Anne Arundel Medical Center. Representatives from both organizations requested that the College offer the MSN program at their sites. Upper Chesapeake Health and Anne Arundel Medical Center will work with College of Notre Dame to facilitate the enrollment, retention and graduation of their nurses in the program.

College of Notre Dame will also reach out to students and graduates of its RN to BSN program, to invite them to be part of the new master’s cohorts.

“The need for nursing faculty in our state is so great,” said Dr. Katharine C. Cook, chair of the nursing department at College of Notre Dame. “The grant will help us educate nurses who can return to the classroom to teach nursing students.”

Career progression initiatives have been endorsed by a variety of national nursing associations as an effective strategy to retain nurses in the field. Additionally, increased educational opportunities at all levels of nursing have been shown to increase the quality of patient health care and the ability to retain nursing staff.

A 2006 projection by the Health Resources and Services Administration indicated that the nation’s nursing shortage would grow to more than one million by 2020. One of the reasons for the nursing shortage is a lack of master’s prepared faculty to teach nurses and bring them into the field. In 2007 College of Notre Dame launched its Master of Science in Nursing program to help alleviate the faculty shortage. Its first class of 30 students receives degrees at Commencement this Saturday.

The Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) has awarded 18 institutions grants totaling $20.1 million over five years as part of the fourth round of funding in the Competitive Institutional Grants component of the Nurse Support Program II. HSCRC has contracted with the Maryland Higher Education Commission to administer the Nurse Support Program II.

As standard procedure, the College will submit the site expansion of the MSN program to MHEC for formal approval.

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