Federal Grant To Help Low Income Nursing Students

Oct 24, 2012

     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.