Worcester State and Quinsigamond Community College awarded $1.6M to expand nursing workforce

January 4, 2023
By: Deborah Alvarez O'Neil

Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College have been awarded grants totaling $1.6 million from the Baker-Polito Administration to strengthen the region’s nursing talent pipeline and improve career pathways for the nursing profession.

The grants will enable the schools to target a dire nursing shortage across Massachusetts and will expand capacity to meet the continuing demand for highly skilled nurses in all healthcare settings. The MassHire Central Region Workforce Board has identified nursing as among the region’s highest demand occupations.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Tuesday, as she announced the Nursing Pathways Grants during a visit to QCC’s Healthcare and Workforce Development Center. The event was attended by healthcare leaders from UMass Memorial and Saint Vincent Hospital, who will partner with Worcester State and QCC in the work. 

From K-12 through public higher education, the Baker-Polito Administration, Polito said, has invested in “creating that pipeline of talent to connect to high growth industry sectors in Massachusetts, but more so access to opportunity, especially with kids of color and underserved communities that might not see themselves in jobs and careers like the ones we are spotlighting today.

If you put it all together, you have kids learning early on about experiential learning, connecting these pathways to industries that are really critical to us in Massachusetts, being able to afford an associate’s degree and then partnering between Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State to get a four-year degree at an affordable rate. Then industry partners will scoop up this talent before they even graduate. This is the kind of ecosystem we have created and the kind of pipeline that is really important to competitiveness for our future and the retention of our talent.”

The $1 million grant to Worcester State and $600,000 grant to QCC build on an existing partnership between Worcester State’s prestigious Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing, which awards baccalaureate and graduate nursing degrees, and Quinsigamond Community College’s Nurse Education Program, which awards associate degrees. The two institutions share an agreement that enables QCC registered nurse (RN) graduates to seamlessly transfer to Worcester State’s bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. 

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Worcester State and QCC stepped forward to absorb some 200 nursing students from Becker College when it announced it was closing its doors. The grants provide ongoing support for the program expansion that was required to accommodate the new students.

Through the new grants, the schools will focus on expanding pathways for RNs to earn a BSN degree and for BSN graduates to earn a master’s degree in nursing. The institutions will form a working committee of key healthcare industry groups and major healthcare organizations to build a broad-based collaboration that meets existing and future training needs of employers. In addition, the Worcester State grant will support $400,000 of equipment upgrades to its nursing labs. QCC will use $300,000 of its grant funds to support the purchase of technology and equipment.

“Today we are taking a significant step toward strengthening the educational pipeline for the nursing profession in Central Massachusetts,” said Worcester State University President Barry Maloney. “Now, the work really begins. This investment will stimulate further collaboration between our two institutions and also grow our partnerships with St. Vincent, UMass, and others in the healthcare industry to benefit the community at large.”

“Our ongoing conversations with Worcester State have enabled us to build pathways that will increase our local capacity to graduate nursing students who can serve the needs of our community,” said QCC President Luis G. Pedraja, Ph.D. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito administration for recognizing the need in our community and for their support. This funding is a first step to achieve our goal and to continue to move forward on our vision for the future. Our ongoing collaboration will benefit our students and our community for many years to come.”

“This investment in higher education is wonderful news for Central Mass,” said Jeffrey Turgeon, executive director of the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board. “Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College, along with the region’s healthcare industry partners, are well poised to make a real difference in expanding opportunity and strengthening our workforce.”

Photo from left: UMass Memorial President and CEO, Dr. Eric Dickson; Quinsigamond Community College Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. James Keane; Lt. Governor Karyn Polito; Worcester State University President Barry Maloney; Worcester Business Development Corporation President Craig Blais; Worcester City Manager Eric Batista; and Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega. Photo by Quinsigamond Community College.

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