July 19, 2004
Contact: Chris Harrison
CUA Lands $788,000 Grant to Educate Community Nursing Teachers
The Catholic University of America will recruit and prepare more teachers for the nursing profession, through a new $788,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Nursing. The grant proposal scored 96 out of 100 possible points from the funding committee.
Called the “Community/Public Health Nurse Specialist Educator” project, the initiative seeks to improve the quality of health care for the vulnerable and underprivileged by preparing more nursing educators to teach in academic settings and by preparing their colleagues in the field to change community-based care.
The grant is a follow-up to two previous federally funded initiatives designed by CUA to recruit and educate more nurses — particularly minorities — to provide primary health care to disadvantaged families and communities. The grant will be awarded over three years; the project will begin accepting new students this fall.
“With this latest grant, we’re preparing community/public health specialists for a blended role, as nurses and as teachers,” says Sister Rosemary Donley, S.C., CUA professor and project director for the grant.
“It’s well known there is a nursing shortage in the United States,” adds Sister Donley. “It would be wonderful to have more students in our schools, but faculty has to be there to teach them. Most nursing educators are from the baby-boomer generation, and, like me, are getting old. So recruiting teachers is almost as important as getting people to come to schools of nursing.”
The new project is designed to recruit eight students per year, for a total of 24 enrolled over the life of the grant. The master’s level program, open to students who already hold bachelor’s degrees in nursing, could be completed in two years of full-time study. It will produce community/public health clinical nurse specialists who are qualified to teach nursing students at community colleges or universities and to offer staff development in hospitals or at outpatient/community clinics.
Sister Donley and Eileen Sarsfield, CUA program manager, say they intend to recruit at least 50 percent of the new program’s students from minority populations.
In addition to their classroom work at Catholic University, students will be placed with
faculty for practicum experience at Columbia Union College, George Mason University,
Marymount University, Northern Virginia Community College, Prince George’s Community College, University of the District of Columbia, Howard University and several local community hospitals and clinics such as Children’s National Medical Center, Bread for the City, Christ House and So Others Might Eat.
CUA’s two existing nursing programs with a focus on vulnerable communities have graduated four community/public health clinical nurse specialists and three nurses from a blended role program that combines the community/public health clinical nurse specialist and family nurse practitioner roles. So far, 30 others are enrolled in the programs, which have received renewed federal funding. Seventy percent of the students come from minority populations.
All three grants have been written with an unfunded component that allows for CUA nursing staff to visit local high schools and conduct seminars with students who may be interested in nursing careers.
“We’re very excited about this program,” Sister Donley says. “It fits perfectly with our mission of service, as we prepare people to teach others to care for the most vulnerable people in our society: the uninsured, immigrants, those with sexually transmitted and other communicable diseases, and homeless people who are often mentally ill or suffer from addiction.”
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