News | May 20, 2010

The Highmark Foundation Provides Resources To Address Nursing Shortage In Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, PA /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania health care providers will experience a 41 percent vacancy rate in nursing positions by the year 2020, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. This situation will require the training and retention of more than 54,000 nurses in order to provide adequate patient care in health care delivery systems.

"The nursing shortage in Pennsylvania is not a problem that will be solved overnight," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. "Through grant support and partnerships with local nursing programs, our long-term goal is to increase the number of graduates from nursing programs who successfully obtain licensure, upgrade their skills and practice nursing in Pennsylvania."

Since 2003, the Highmark Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in grants to five Pennsylvania colleges and universities, impacting the training and development of approximately 5,000 nursing students, nurses, medical students, first responders and nursing faculty.

The following programs have benefited from Highmark Foundation funding:

  • Duquesne University School of Nursing received $125,000 to support the Second Degree Accelerated Nursing Program and purchase a simulation mannequin to be used as a teaching and learning tool. Since the grant was awarded in 2003, 81 percent of the students enrolled in the Second Degree program have graduated, and more than 300 students have been trained annually using the simulation technology.
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania received $55,000 to support the Innovative Nursing Scholarship Award, Recruitment Program and Technology Initiative to assist with increasing the diversity of nursing students. Since the grant was awarded in 2003, 58 percent of the program's graduates are licensed in Pennsylvania and the graduation rate of students in the program (83 percent) is higher than the graduation rate of traditional nursing students (79.86 percent).
  • Pennsylvania State University – The Behrend College received $200,000 in 2007 to support the Nursing Technology Laboratory and Simulation Center, which was established to train nursing students through innovative technology in combination with a traditional nursing curriculum. It is projected that approximately 100 associate degree students and 75 registered nursing (RN) to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) students use the lab and simulation center annually. About 600 nurses from Hamot and Saint Vincent hospitals and 320 first responders also use the center annually.
  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation received $150,000 to support the Pennsylvania Nursing Assistance Fund, which was created to provide scholarships to undergraduate nursing students at Bloomsburg, Chatham, Clarion, Millersville universities and Mount Aloysius College. Since the grant was awarded in 2006, 130 scholarships have been awarded and approximately 45 students have graduated. Of those who have graduated, 95 percent indicated that they would like to remain in Pennsylvania.
  • Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing received $500,000 to support the Simulation, Teaching and Academic Research Center (STAR) at West Penn Allegheny School of Nursing to improve medical and nursing education and patient safety. Since the grant was awarded in 2007, approximately 4,500 nurses, medical students, nursing students, allied health professionals and ancillary personnel have been trained using simulation education.

The Highmark Foundation recently published a report that details the progress and outcomes of these nursing programs as a result of funds received from the foundation. To view the complete report, visit the "Highmark Foundation" section of www.highmark.com.

About the Highmark Foundation
The Highmark Foundation, created in 2000 as an affiliate of Highmark Inc., is a charitable organization and a private foundation that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the Pennsylvania communities served by Highmark Inc. The foundation awards two types of grants: Highmark Healthy High 5, which includes a focus on the health and well-being of children in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, self-esteem, bullying and grieving; and its traditional four areas of general health focus, which include chronic disease, communicable disease, family health and service delivery systems. Where possible, the foundation looks to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information about the Highmark Foundation, visit www.highmark.com.

SOURCE The Highmark Foundation

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