A small college in Springfield Massachusetts has been awarded a federal grant for its nursing school. It will help respond to a national call for a more highly educated and ethnically diverse workforce in nursing. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports
American International College has received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will fund scholarships over four years to at least 40 nursing students. AIC Director of Nursing Karen Rousseau said 58 percent of the students enrolled in the bachelor degree program are low income.
A national survey this year by the National League For Nursing found that of the students admitted to a bachelor degree program just 12 percent were African American and just 6 percent Hispanic.
Theresa Renaud,who is a senior in the undergraduate nursing program at AIC, said having a scholarship that will cover 25 percent of her $4,000 tuition means she’ll be able to graduate.
Employment opportunities for nurses have ebbed and flowed, but Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who announced the grant award to AIC Wednesday, predicted demand for nurses will increase. Neal cited the Affordable Health Care Act which will add 32 million people to the health insurance rolls, coupled with the health care needs of one million returning military veterans
William Ward, the head of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County says a recent labor market study projects a shortage of nurses in the Pioneer Valley in 2016.
The $2.3 million dollar federal grant is the largest in AIC’s history, according to college president Vince Maniaci.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst was awarded a $900,000 federal grant recently to promote diversity in the nursing workforce. That money goes for scholarships, academic support programs and mentoring.