College of Nursing at UMass Amherst Receives $600,000 Scholarship Award for Students in Accelerated Second Nursing Degree Program

One-time Fuld Scholar and current College of Nursing faculty member Mary Paterno.
One-time Fuld Scholar and current College of Nursing faculty member Mary Paterno.

AMHERST, Mass. – The College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded $600,000 by the Helene Fuld Health Trust to fund financial aid for students in the school’s Accelerated Second Degree Baccalaureate Program.

College of Nursing Dean Stephen J. Cavanagh said students seeking an accelerated second bachelor’s degree in nursing are often among the most motivated and the most financially needy.

“They often have little to no access to funding,” said Cavanagh. “The Helene Fuld grant will help these students focus on their studies instead of a second job. They will also have significantly less debt when they enter the workforce or pursue a graduate degree.”

That funding will aid some students immediately, he added. The grant will support $300,000 toward the establishment of a permanent endowment fund for students in the second degree nursing program and $300,000 toward current-use financial aid, said Cavanagh. The grant itself will be paid in three installments over a three-year period.

Among those who can attest to the value of the Fuld scholarship is Mary Paterno, a new College of Nursing faculty member who was a Helene Fuld Scholarship recipient when she studied for her second bachelor’s degree. A certified nurse midwife who will be teaching “Professional Role in Nursing and Introductory Statistics” this year, Paterno said, “I am glad UMass Amherst has received this award, it means a great deal to students who go back to school for a different calling like nursing.”

According to Cavanagh, the U.S. is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” calls for increasing the percentage of baccalaureate nurses to 80 percent by 2020.

Cavanagh said the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship Fund will greatly assist nursing students in obtaining an accelerated degree while helping the college meet the IOM recommendations.

“The accelerated second degree nursing program builds on previous learning experience and will help turn nurses out into the workforce more quickly than traditional programs,” said Cavanagh. “Employers find that students who have completed the accelerated second degree program make great nurses. They are highly motivated individuals who enter the workforce with strong clinical skills.”

The Helene Fuld Health Trust was founded by Leonhard Felix Fuld, a New York City public health advocate and philanthropist, and his sister Florentine in the memory of their mother, Helene Schwab Fuld, a health care crusader in the 1880s.

The College of Nursing at UMass Amherst prepares students to enter the nursing profession at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels while also developing vital nurse educators and researchers to inform and educate future generations of nursing students.