Mississippi has a shortage of nurses, but hospital leaders say there is also a shortage of nursing educators at community colleges. A new grant will help address the education shortage, funding the next generation of nursing educators.
A grant from the Bower Foundation is being awarded to the University of Mississippi Medical Center and partnering community colleges. The grant will help nurses get their master's degrees and become educators themselves. Julie Sanford is Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She says the coronavirus pandemic created a high demand for nurses and nursing educators, and other states were able to pay more. "We're seeing people leave the state and go and work in other places. They have tremendous sign-on bonuses, thousands of dollars and then the salaries are so high. We do expect what's going to happen as the pandemic resolves, that we'll see some of those individuals return to our state. We hope so," says Sanford.
The nearly $4 million grant pays for tuition for 64 master's degree nursing students, and hospital leaders say they will be qualified to work at community colleges across the state. Kathy Elliott is Dean of Health Sciences at Hinds Community College. She says having more educators in the classroom will have a rippling effect towards building the state's nursing profession. "And that's really our ultimate goal is to get students in and to keep students long enough to graduate," says Elliott. "Nursing school is hard, but when we provide the tools that faculty need to do their jobs as best as they possibly can, then that's a win-win for faculty and for students."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 175,000openings for registered nurses each year through 2029.