State to use $300K grant to advance nursing profession
By Colleen Quinn
August 21, 2012 ... Massachusetts will receive a $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to further state efforts to advance the nursing profession, the Patrick administration announced Tuesday.
Massachusetts was one of nine states to receive a grant from Robert Wood Johnson, an organization focused on improving healthcare.
The funds will be put toward enhancing curriculum at state universities to look at the core skills nurses will need in the future; programs to address a nursing shortage and faculty shortage in nursing; and finding ways to eliminate financial and other barriers some nurses overcome to receive advanced degrees, according to officials at the Department of Higher Education, which will oversee the grants.
Since 2005, the state Department of Higher Education has partnered with the nursing industry to combat a nursing shortage and promote advanced degrees for nurses. The grants will support an ongoing collaboration between the Department of Higher Education and the Organization of Nurse Leaders (ONL) to promote newly credentialed nurses and help those already employed to receive Bachelor of Science degrees or other advanced degrees.
Currently, 55 percent of nurses in Massachusetts hold a bachelor of science in nursing degree or above. In a 2010 report, the Institute of Medicine – an arm of the National Academy of Sciences - recommended that 80 percent of nurses hold a Bachelor of Science degree or higher.
An aging population, advances in health care technology, and efforts to control health care costs will continue to make nursing more complex, requiring them to be more educated, several state officials said when announcing the grant at the State House Tuesday afternoon.
Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland said the state must find ways to help more nurses further their education.
Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby said with Massachusetts acting as the epicenter of many advances in science and healthcare, it places added pressure on nurses in the state to advance their educations throughout their career.
“We need to do everything we can to improve access to care, improve quality and also to make it more affordable,” Bigby said.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, the son of a nurse, said it is critical the state have the “best prepared nursing workforce,” at a time when the population is aging and controlling health care costs is paramount.
The health care industry also needs more nurses to enter into the field to curb the nursing shortage, Murray said.
“Here in Massachusetts health care is one of the largest sectors. We are seeing the health care industry adding jobs,” Murray told a crowd gathered in Nurses Hall for the grant announcement. “People who have those skills in this area are less likely to experience unemployment in their lifetime.”
Sen. Richard Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat and one of the chief architects of the state’s recently passed health care cost containment legislation, said the grants will help implement cost control goals. The health care cost control legislation encourages nurse practitioners to play a larger role in primary care.
“Certainly there are a number of areas in cost containment where nurses really are front and center,” Moore said.
This story appears courtesy of the State House News Service (subscription required).