Diversifying the nursing workforce is goal of UMass Dartmouth College of Nursing federal grant project

Nursing Workforce Diversity grant from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration grant will leverage local partnerships and innovative teaching, learning, and research to create nursing workforce that more closely reflects the SouthCoast population

UMass Dartmouth's College of Nursing has received a $291,790 grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a Nursing Workforce Diversity project designed to enhance the diversity of the region's nursing workforce. An additional $333,960 has been recommended in future support for year two of the project. 

The project aims to strengthen the connections between local organizations and the College of Nursing to recruit and retain nursing students from disadvantaged populations for undergraduate and graduate programs. Using evidence-based strategies, the College will promote student academic success by enhancing the cultural competencies of faculty members, and developing new and innovative teaching, learning and research activities. 

"Across the country, we are seeing nursing shortages and the drastic impacts of that," said Rep. Keating.  "Nurses are the backbones of our healthcare system.  This grant not only provides funding to promote a skilled nursing workforce, but also allows the community to tailor the nurses' training to meet the specific needs of the community.  That is an invaluable resource." 
"Congratulations to Dean Christopher, Professor Weatherford and her College of Nursing team on earning funding for such an important initiative for the university and the region," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Grossman said. "As nurses deliver care to a more diverse population, it is important that the workforce reflect the community it serves. We expect to learn valuable lessons that can be applied to other urban centers." 

"We are very proud of Professor Weatherford and the impact we are hopeful this work will have for the healthcare community on the SouthCoast," College of Nursing Dean Dr. Kimberly Christopher said. "Promoting diversity is proven to increase patient satisfaction and outcomes. Education is a key component to this initiative to engage young men and women in healthcare and sustain the growing, competitive nursing field." 

The partnership will initiate a "school to career" summer employment program for area teens interested in nursing/health by summer 2017. The University's College of Nursing will collaborate with UMass Dartmouth's Upward Bound Program to engage middle and high school students in New Bedford in activities to help them become college ready and competitive in the pool of candidates applying for the nursing program at UMass Dartmouth. Success will be measured in numbers of students in summer healthcare internships, the number interested in nursing, and number applying to college. 

"The success of this project will be built on the strong partnerships between UMass Dartmouth and the region," said Professor Barbara Weatherford, who will serve as the Project Director of the Nursing Workforce Diversity program. "Through the support of these connections and the innovative teaching and research of our College of Nursing faculty we will be able to have a positive impact on the nursing workforce in New Bedford, which could potentially serve as a model for other communities." 

The HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity grant is latest initiative of the College of Nursing's involvement in community engagement and research. College of Nursing Professor Dr. Caitlin Stover recently partnered with UMass Law Professor Margaret Drew and UMass Law Lecturer Jason Potter on assessing the unmet legal and medical needs of HIV-positive individuals on the SouthCoast. Research will involve surveying diagnosed individuals and their providers to determine unmet needs. This March Assistant Professor Maryellen Brisbois and eight students traveled to the University of the Azores as part of the inaugural nursing exchange titled "Bridging the Atlantic." In August, UMass Dartmouth and the University of the Azores announced the new partnership that created a sustainable international alliance in community health among American and Azorean nursing students and faculty through a generous $100,000 pledge by the DeMello Charitable Foundation. The group of nursing students assessed the health needs of deportees from both countries.  Azorean students and faculty traveled to UMass Dartmouth in April as part of the exchange. 

UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all. 

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D19HP28490 and title Nursing Workforce Diversity for $291,790 ($333,960 Recommended Future Support Year 02) with no percentage funded by non-governmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. 

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