University's nursing program awarded $1.8 million grant to recruit and train workforce

Aug 01, 2017

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's College of Nursing has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to diversify the nursing workforce in the region over the next four years. More than $500,000 will be used for need-based aid for area students who want to pursue nursing as a profession.

The UMass Dartmouth team, led by Dr. Barbara Weatherford, will be joined by colleagues from Bristol Community College (BCC) as they study admission practices at each campus, and identify and recruit a qualified applicant pool that mirrors the demography of the region, officials said. BCC has nursing programs in Fall River and New Bedford.

This project focuses on New Bedford due to the city’s changing demographics, now estimated at 16.7 percent Hispanic and 6.4 percent Black/African American (US Census, 2015 est.), officials said. The goal is to bring nursing enrollment in line with these demographic trends by promoting nursing as a career and supporting admitted students throughout their college career so they graduate on time and fully prepared to excel at regional hospitals and other health care organizations, officials said.

One major objective of the project is to develop holistic admissions at both campuses, a strategy used in medical and dental schools to ensure that talented students from diverse backgrounds are identified, recruited, and supported.

The initiative will build upon ongoing outreach to middle and high school students through the university’s Upward Bound program. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

This is the second nursing workforce diversity program that the university has undertaken with the support of HRSA, officials said. The existing UMass Dartmouth Diversity Nursing Scholars (DNS) program works with diverse and disadvantaged nursing students to develop an effective academic success plan and engage students in professional activities to develop social capital in the profession.

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