BlueCross Backs SC Nursing Scholarships

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nursing nurse

Scholarships Aid Nursing Faculty

Academic scholarships can be the deciding factor for prospective college students, a financial award which can a long way toward covering the high cost of higher education. College savings plans, grants, Stafford loans, and private student loans may not be enough, but a scholarship can ease at least some of that burden.

South Carolina, like so many states, is facing a critical shortage of registered nurses (RN), but the cost to attend these training programs can be beyond the reach of many students. The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, in a bid to ease a shortage of nursing faculty, recently announced an important grant of $1.5 million to establish graduate-level nursing scholarships through the South Carolina Nurses Foundation, Inc. This grant, which will be distributed over a period of three years, will provide financial support for a minimum of 30 nurses who will then become faculty for nursing education programs across the state.

A Critical Statewide Nursing Shortage

The Palmetto State is experiencing a serious nursing shortage due to the retirement of a large number of nurses and the inability of state nursing education programs to expand enrollments adequately to keep up with demand. Under current law, colleges and universities must restrict enrollments based on faculty-to-student ratios required by the South Carolina Board of Nursing, which comes out to 8-10 students per faculty member. Faculty are required to hold higher degrees such as a master’s degree in associate degree programs and a doctoral degree in baccalaureate and graduate programs.

“The rate of new graduate degrees for the preparation of nurses for faculty roles has not kept up with faculty retirements,” said Foundation Executive Director Harvey Galloway. “We hope our new scholarship will entice some who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford higher education to pursue a graduate degree and go on to teach others. It’s imperative to the health of people in our state to have a sufficient number of working nurses.”

“This grant will make a significant impact in meeting prospective faculty requirements in our state,” said Renatta S. Loquist, SCNF past president who solicited the grant. “We are grateful to the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation for their vision and commitment to the health of the citizens of our great state. We hope to sustain the project beyond this grant amount by adding other partners who will invest in creating a thriving nursing education system.”

Hiring Faculty Will Allow For More Nursing Students

The future 30 higher education graduates can begin to immediately fill existing vacant faculty positions and provide additional slots for student enrollment. For every one new faculty member hired, a nursing program can accommodate up to eight additional students in a clinical course.

“It is compelling that we have stimulated interest in nursing as a career, and nursing programs in the state are turning away qualified applicants,” said Dr. Gail Stuart, dean and professor in the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing. “The problem now is attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of nurse faculty to sustain and grow nursing school enrollment. This program will be a tremendous stimulus to ensure a strong cohort of nurse educators.”

“We are grateful for this commitment by the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation,” said Rosanne Pruitt, Ph.D., RN and Clemson University director of the School of Nursing and associate dean, College of Health Education and Human Development. “This is a much needed resource to prepare nurses for the faculty role. Preparation of the future nursing workforce has important health implications for all South Carolinians.”

Three SC Programs To Benefit

South Carolina currently has 24 undergraduate RN programs, three master’s programs and two doctoral programs in nursing. Clemson University’s new interdisciplinary Ph.D. in healthcare genetics also has an option for nurses to prepare for the academic role. In 2007, there were 44 faculty vacancies, with an additional 72 faculty expected to retire within five years.

The scholarships will be made available to in-state or out-of-state students accepted to or already enrolled in nursing graduate programs at the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina, with each university receiving equal amount scholarship funds. Scholarship recipients will be required to sign a contract that commits them to teach in a South Carolina state-approved nursing program for at least three years. Scholarship applicants may apply through their universities.

(Source: http://www.bcbsscfoundation.org/)


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Categories: Scholarships