$2 Million Federal Grant Will Help NEC Expand Space to Train Future Nurses at Three Hospitals - New England College

$2 Million Federal Grant Will Help NEC Expand Space to Train Future Nurses at Three Hospitals

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Reprinted from the Union Leader, January 17, 2023
Michael Cousineau
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A $2 million federal grant will help New England College expand space to train future nurses at three hospitals, including the two in Manchester, as an acute shortage of nurses persists across the state and nation.

Manchester’s Elliot Hospital became the latest hospital to partner with the Henniker college to produce a dedicated pipeline of future nurses.

“Students will be able to earn while they learn while they’re taking classes at the college, helping to make their education that much more affordable in their time as a student at New England College,” college President Wayne Lesperance said at an announcement at Elliot Hospital on Tuesday.

The $2 million grant will “allow us to nearly triple the number of students we can support in our nursing program,” Lesperance said.

Elliot joins Catholic Medical School in Manchester and Concord Hospital in setting up partnerships.

Concord Hospital has about 40 students who enrolled in the college either last fall or this spring.

Students will begin their studies in the classroom and start learning in hospitals during their third 14-week semester, according to Angie McPhee-Smith, dean of nursing and health professions at New England College.

“One of the innovations of this program was to mitigate those workforce needs throughout the three years,” she said.

Students will work at the hospitals as licensed nursing assistants.

Graduates will earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing in three years — a year early.

The $2 million grant will be used to renovate an existing science building on campus, according to McPhee-Smith.

“They’re going to take some space and add high-tech nursing labs,” she said.

Hospitals scramble

Elliot has a shortage of 50 to 70 full-time equivalent nurses, according to Dr. W. Gregory Baxter, president of Elliot Health System.

Elliot is relying on traveling nurses and staff picking up extra shifts, he said.

“These types of programs are really a building block” to “try to fill those gaps,” Baxter said.

CMC hopes to have a dozen nursing students enrolling this fall.

“We have about 100 open positions currently” for registered nurses delivering direct bedside care, Jennifer Torosian, CMC’s associate chief nursing officer, said in an interview.

Hiring nurses who have trained at your hospital is beneficial because “they already are familiar with their colleagues” and how the organization operates, she said.

Speaking at Elliot Hospital on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said nursing shortages are being felt nationwide.

“We’re excited because it’s going to increase opportunities from sort of the bottom up and improve the chance that people will then go for that next step …. as a nurse practitioner, making sure that we continue to have a great pipeline of health-care professionals,” Kuster said.

Federal benefits administrator FedPoint, which employs several dozen registered nurses, launched a scholarship program last year to help address the nurse shortage.

“That shortage intensified during the pandemic, and, with 70-odd million baby boomers in the United States either retiring from nursing or on retirement’s doorstep, we’re headed for a crisis unless we get more nurses trained,” FedPoint CEO Paul Forte said in a statement.

The nurses provide care coordination services for claimants and family members as part of the administrative services the Portsmouth company provides to the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, the company said in a release last week.

FedPoint plans to award four $5,000 scholarships this spring. Applicants must currently reside in either New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts and must be accepted to an accredited nursing program. The application deadline is March 6. Visit fedpointusa.com/scholarships for more information.


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