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Initiative to Address Nursing Faculty Shortage

September 8, 2008
By: Worcester State University News

An initiative to increase qualified nursing faculty at area colleges begins this month at Worcester State College. Funded through a $120,000 grant from the Fairlawn Foundation, area nurses will attend workshops introducing them to opportunities in nursing education. The effort is part of the Worcester Nursing Pipeline Consortium’s Nursing Faculty Initiative.

Experts agree that the ranks of nursing professors must grow in order to increase the number of nurses working in the field.  In addition to training nurses to become faculty, the grant will provide scholarship aid to area nurses who are pursuing doctorate degrees in the health care or education, and, with matching support from partner organizations, offering faculty stipends for professional development. Worcester State College is the grant’s fiscal agent.

“It is exciting to see Fairlawn Foundation’s continued support in this new effort to address capacity in our educational institutions and make a significant difference in our collective abilities to prepare the nursing workforce of the future,” said WSC President Janelle C. Ashley.

The 18-hour workshop, which runs at the WSC campus on Monday, Aug. 18, Tuesday, Aug. 19, and Monday, Aug. 25, will cover such topics as active-learning clinical teaching, student clinical assessments, and legal and ethical issues of clinical teaching.

Maryellen Brisbois is a beneficiary of previous Fairlawn Foundation support aimed at addressing the region’s nursing faculty shortage. She received a Fairlawn scholarship while she pursued a master’s in Community Health Nursing from WSC. Interested in becoming a professor, Brisbois also participated in a previous grant-funded workshop. She is a nursing instructor at WSC and pursuing a doctorate degree.

“Having been involved in this landmark program further fueled my desire to teach,” she said.

The initiative is the result of a study that was the first of its kind in the area, if not the country, according to Mary K. Alexander, Ed.D., nurse coordinator for the Consortium, a Worcester State Foundation Board member, and former nursing professor at WSC and UMass Medical School’s Graduate School of Nursing. She and Lillian Goodman, Ed.D., founder of WSC’s nursing department and Worcester State Foundation Board member, were instrumental in starting this initiative.

Other members of the consortium Nursing Faculty Initiative are: Quinsigamond Community College, University of Massachusetts-Worcester Graduate School of Nursing, Anna Maria College, Becker College, Fitchburg State College, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

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