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Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence Awarded Grant to Address Nationwide Nursing Crisis

New York, NY – The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence was selected as one of 18 foundations nationwide to receive funding in the third year of Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, a unique national initiative to help close the shortage gap in the nursing workforce across the country.

Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future energizes local foundations to act as catalysts in their communities to develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. The 10 grants awarded this year represent the involvement of 18 local foundations and diverse other funding sources. These foundations, some for the first time, have forged partnerships in their own communities to apply for this grant, giving increased attention to the nursing shortage in their area. To help develop solutions and lead efforts within New York and North Carolina, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, in partnership with The Foundation for Nursing Excellence of North Carolina, has been awarded a two-year grant of $250,000. To date, RIBN is the first Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future award that is multi-regional and the first to target the New York metropolitan area. Additionally, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence will contribute $125,000 over two years to the academic partners in New York City. Similar funding for the North Carolina sites is forthcoming from North Carolina-based funders.

“One major issue fueling the nursing shortage is the lack of faculty to educate qualified individuals applying to nursing programs,” said Dr. Marilyn DeLuca, Executive Director of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. “A major factor behind the faculty shortage is the recent trend in education for community colleges to educate the majority of nurses conferring Associate Degrees. Currently, two-thirds of the nurses entering practice hold Associate Degrees, yet only 15% continue formal education at baccalaureate and graduate degree levels and are poised to become faculty. The current shortage of nursing faculty in the U.S. is the leading reasons that near 90,000 qualified applicants were turned away from schools in 2007.”

The Jonas Center’s grant, A Multi-Regional Model to Increase the Number of Baccalaureate Nurses in the US (RIBN), partners associate and baccalaureate degree programs, dually enrolls entering students in both degree programs, provides an integrated curriculum and mentors students, all in an effort to make the transition to baccalaureate study as seamless as possible, DeLuca pointed out.

“As the severity of the nursing shortage continues to grow, the stability and quality of our nation’s health care stands at risk,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s not only a national problem, but a local issue that demands community-based interventions and innovative solutions. This unique partnership of the philanthropic community helps foster innovations that will drive nursing workforce solutions beyond what any one foundation could do alone.”

The goal of RIBN is to bring associate and baccalaureate nursing programs together in new partnerships to 1) increase the number of professional nurses with baccalaureate degrees and nurses poised to pursue education at masters and doctoral levels, thereby creating a long-term solution to the nursing and nursing faculty shortage 2) increase the proportion of baccalaureate nurses from racially and ethnically diverse groups and 3) expand the number of graduate nurses educated in public health and gerontological nursing.

The RIBN project’s New York-based academic partners include Queensborough Community College, Hunter College and the City University of New York (CUNY). North Carolina-based partners include the Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College and Western Carolina University. Both regions aim to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the nursing workforce. In particular, New York City has an under-representation of Hispanic and Latino nurses in contrast to its population: 3.8% of the city’s nurses are Hispanic-Latino while 27% of its residents are Hispanic-Latino. Each region is also engaging a Student Success Advocate, an experienced nurse leader who will encourage students and who students can culturally identify with over their four years of study.

“We are honored that CUNY is the leader in New York City for this prestigious grant,” said Dr. William Ebenstein, University Dean for Health and Human Sciences, Graduate Center, CUNY.

“Our nursing program attracts stellar candidates to the nursing profession,” noted Jennifer Raab, President, Hunter College. “Students seek to study at Hunter because of its academic reputation and the accessibility of CUNY’s tuition rates, which are modest compared to private universities.”

This marks the third year of a five-year, $10 million commitment by Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future which funds partnerships of up to $250,000 each. During the program’s first two years, 21 foundation partners in 19 states established more than 215 local partnerships between nursing organizations, funders and workforce development boards to address the nursing shortage.

The unique strengths of the RIBN project include: engaging two different communities and states - one rural and the other urban; the diversity of the student populations and affordable tuition rates at each academic site; and the potential for this project to bring additional funding and interest to sustain and expand RIBN regionally and nationally.

The project aims to significantly increase the proportion of new nurses with baccalaureate degrees among the graduates from the participating sites over a five-year timeframe. “Among the graduates participating in RIBN, we project that the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate preparation will dramatically rise from 34% to 70%,” said Margaret McClure, EdD, RN, FAAN, one of the grant’s Co-Directors. “With that nearly twofold increase, the number of nurses prepared to pursue graduate education, become faculty and educated in public health and gerontological nursing increases. The RIBN project is relatively inexpensive to replicate and fits the respective educational goals of New York, North Carolina, and other locations nationwide.

Through Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future initiative the program’s leaders are hopeful that local and regional foundations will create a domino effect—where innovative ideas are tested locally and shared nationally. Partners represent a diverse group planning a wide range of program initiatives.

Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future is currently seeking proposals for a fourth round of partnerships. Two-year grants of up to $250,000 each will be awarded in September 2009, with partnerships matching their awards with at least $1 for every $1 provided. The Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future call for proposals is available at www.PartnersInNursing.org. Brief proposals are due by October 2, 2008.

The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is committed to advancing professional nursing to meet the healthcare needs of the 21st century. It strives to improve nurse recruitment and retention, increase ethnic and racial diversity among the nursing workforce, advance innovative practice models and improve practice settings in New York City and beyond. A unique philanthropy, the Jonas Center realizes its mission through grantmaking, drawing funders to nursing, education and advocacy to impact policy. The Jonas Center, founded in 2006, is supported by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

Founded in 1997, the Northwest Health Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation committed to advancing, supporting, and promoting the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington. Embracing its role as the community’s partner for better health, the Foundation achieves its mission primarily through grantmaking and support for advocacy efforts that influence public policy. See www.nwhf.org.

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