Major Gift Jumpstarts Nursing Shortage Solutions

UR School of Nursing Receives $2.2 Million from Trust

August 07, 2002

Amid a tightening supply of registered nurses, the University of Rochester School of Nursing has received a major gift that promises to put its efforts to attract new talent to the profession into high gear. The $2.2 million grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, HSBC Bank USA, Trustee is the single largest Foundation grant received by the School in the last 20 years.

“This funding will have a tremendous impact on our ability to infuse the region’s hospitals with newly trained, highly skilled nurses and retain the nurses already working in the profession,” said Patricia Chiverton, Ed.D., dean and professor of the University of Rochester School of Nursing. “It will help us to foster fundamental changes in the way nurses are educated, the way nursing care is delivered, and in the way that the profession is perceived and valued.”

The grant is an endorsement of the School’s “Unification Model,” an approach to nursing training that integrates clinical practice, education and research. First conceived in 1972, the Unification Model was seen as a major departure from a tradition in which the practice of nursing was separate from the education of nurses. In addition to earning the UR School of Nursing national attention, the Unification approach has been proven to increase job satisfaction within a more skilled, professional workforce, and ultimately result in better patient care.

Specifically, Helene Fuld Health Trust funds will be used to expand the School’s new accelerated degree programs and integrate evidence-based nursing into its educational curriculum. Evidence-based nursing education prepares nurses to critically evaluate and incorporate research findings into patient care.

Growing More Nurses, Sooner

In May, the School of Nursing welcomed its first students in its new Accelerated Bachelors and Masters programs. By giving students credit for past education and then building on it with graduate level research, systems and health policy courses, the accelerated programs enable non-nurses to enter the field in much less time than it would normally take. Accelerated programs also allow the School to draw educated, potential leaders to the profession by pulling from a diverse, untapped talent pool. The programs also prepare more nurses with advanced degrees – such as nurse practitioners – faster and thus, at a younger age than before.

“Our accelerated programs have been incredibly popular with prospective students,” Chiverton said. “For instance, we expected to start the accelerated bachelors degree program with eight students, and we actually have 24. Now, using Helene Fuld Health Trust funding, we can offer more scholarships, hire more faculty and support staff, and purchase equipment needed to expand. We can also aggressively market the programs to qualified minority candidates. Within four years, we expect to significantly increase enrollment in each of these programs.”

Improving Nursing’s Image

The Helene Fuld Health Trust Fund support comes at a critical time for the nursing profession, as the nursing shortage is expected to intensify over the next decade as baby boomers continue to age and large numbers of nurses retire. In fact, the total population of registered nurses is experiencing its slowest rate of growth in more than 20 years. As fewer nurses enter the field, dissatisfaction is growing among experienced nurses. Studies show that one-third of hospital nurses under the age of 30 plan to leave their current jobs within the next year, causing industry experts to estimate that, by the year 2020, the nation will have one million fewer nurses than is needed.

“We cannot reverse this trend unless we change the practice and image issues that cause nurses to want to leave the profession,” Chiverton said. The Unification Model of nursing education teaches students to think critically about the care they deliver, and continuously improve that care by incorporating relevant, proven research findings.

“With these funds, we hope to change the training and expectations so that nursing is recognized as both a caring and a scholarly profession,” she said. Chiverton believes that by training nurses who see the profession in a new light, who both incorporate and initiate relevant research, the UR School of Nursing can produce nurse leaders who will transform the attitudes of those around them. This transformation will lead to nurses who are more satisfied, and thus, more likely to remain bedside nurses.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust is the nation's largest private funder devoted exclusively to nursing students and nursing education. In 1935, Dr. Leonhard Felix Fuld and his sister, Florentine, created a foundation in honor of their mother, Helene. In 1965, the foundation was converted to the Helene Fuld Health Trust, and in 1969 HSBC Bank USA (formerly Marine Midland Bank) became its corporate trustee. HSBC Bank USA is currently responsible for overseeing and administering the Fuld Trust.

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