AMHERST, Mass. – The School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a $892,559 grant to boost an ambitious and wide-ranging three-year program to draw future nurses from minority and disadvantaged communities.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Health Professions will allow the school to fully implement a program called Achieving Diversity: A Comprehensive Approach to Nursing Workforce Diversity.
Program director Jean Swinney said the school has been increasingly active in Springfield and its public schools, promoting and participating in “Nursing Clubs” to introduce students to the profession.
According to Swinney, the program addresses two major goals:
- To increase the number of ethnic minority and disadvantaged high school students who choose and successfully prepare for careers in nursing
- To enhance existing structures of support and communication at the college level in order to increase the percentage of ethnic minority and disadvantaged students who successfully complete baccalaureate degree nursing programs and pass the National Council Licensure Examinationwithin the region and throughout the U.S.
Not all smart young people necessarily show up on the radar for encouragement when it comes to fields like nursing, says Swinney.
“If we work collaboratively to provide good early mediation and tutoring starting in junior high school, we can open many good new opportunities for students,” said Swinney. Ultimately the program aims to provide “pre-entry preparation support for minority and disadvantaged high school students in the Springfield area which leads to at least 26 total students being admitted to the School of Nursing B.S. in nursing program,” she said.
That means increasing rates of admission for qualified minority and disadvantaged students to the undergraduate program from the current 20.4 percent baseline level to 26 percent in the 2014-15 academic year; enhancing retention rates for those students from the current 89 percent to 95 percent retention rate in the 2013-14 academic year; and increasing the graduation rate from 93 percent in the 2012-13 academic year; and a 95 percent graduation rate in the 2013-14 academic year.