Partnership creates nursing teachers, more nursing students

June 05, 2006
Up to 11 nurses will be going back to school this fall to become nursing faculty as part of a partnership between New Hanover Regional Medical Center and UNC-Wilmington to expand local nursing schools’ ability to educate and develop nurses.

The unique approach builds on an existing partnership between the medical center and university and is consistent with local, state and national strategies on how to grow the clinical workforce. The N.C. Senate recently passed a budget that includes $27 million to expand the nursing school at UNCW, and leaders are optimistic the House will pass the measure as well.

Nursing leaders in many areas of the nation, including locally, maintain that the national nursing shortage is not fully in the number who want to become nursing students, but in part the number of clinical faculty available to teach them.

The Duke Endowment awarded New Hanover Regional $170,507 in grant dollars to fund the RN-to-Masters project, with the potential of an additional $34,808 in follow-up funding. This partnership encourages nurses at the medical center to obtain a Masters Degree in Nursing Education, allowing them to become clinical educators at UNCW or Cape Fear Community College, which in turn will allow those schools to increase the number of students accepted into their nursing programs.

Seven nurses have been accepted into the program so far, with the potential for four more to be added.

Karen Pleva, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services at New Hanover Regional, said this level of collaboration between a medical center and university is rare in the nursing profession.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for New Hanover Regional and the university to collaborate in an effort to reach out to the community and to nurses who want to further their education,” she said. “At the same time, it allows us to expand our ability to educate new nurses who want to come into the field.”

Currently, NHRMC has three nurses with Masters Degrees in Nursing Education who also serve as faculty with UNCW. Building on this model, the new partnership will provide scholarships for 11 nurses to attend the Masters of Science in Nursing Education Program at UNCW. The nurses will remain in their current positions at the medical center while they obtain their Masters degrees.
This program should allow UNCW to increase its pre-licensure nursing program by 40 students over a two-year period.

For the past several years, NHRMC has been working diligently to address workforce development issues commonly facing hospitals. It has decreased its nursing vacancies and use of temporary nurses through efforts such as achieving Nursing Magnet Designation in 2004 (the 70th hospital in the world to do so), developing a mentoring program for new graduate nurses, placing considerable resources into improving the culture of nursing and partnering with CFCC in 2001 to increase nursing enrollment by adding evening and weekend nursing school classes.

Established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is one of the nation’s largest foundations. Its mission is to serve the people of North Carolina and South Carolina by supporting selected programs of higher education, health care, children’s welfare and spiritual life. Awards made since 1924 total more than $2 billion.