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School of Nursing Awarded Grant to Increase Capacity and Diversity

June 23, 2014

Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Nursing has been awarded its fourth grant in seven years from the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Nurse Support Program II to support the development of the senior year of its new entry-level baccalaureate program and to continue growth of its respected RN-to-BSN program for working nurses.

The NSP II award, for just under $300,000, will allow Notre Dame to continue to increase the capacity and diversity of baccalaureate-prepared bedside nurses to meet the projected demand by Maryland hospitals and health care providers. NDMU will enroll 96 students in the entry-level BSN program and add 24 new RN-to-BSN cohorts of 15 students each (360 total) at partner hospitals by January 2016. The grant also includes funds for Notre Dame to recruit minority students for the baccalaureate nursing programs to ensure that enrollment continues to mirror or exceed the 36 percent share of Maryland's minority population.

The state funding has been vital to grow the School of Nursing’s baccalaureate programs for traditional-aged and adult students and allow Notre Dame to significantly contribute to meet Maryland’s nursing workforce needs,” said Katharine Cook, PhD, RN, dean of the NDMU School of Nursing. Since Notre Dame’s first NSP II grant in 2007, 831 RN-to-BSN students have graduated, addressing the Institute of Medicine’s goal of 80 percent of nurses with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree by 2020.

In addition, a total of 94 pre-nursing students and nursing majors were enrolled in a new entry-level BSN program as of December 2013, with the first class of students scheduled to graduate in spring 2015.

The MHEC grant, funded by the Health Services Cost Review Commission, will provide the School of Nursing with funds for two new faculty positions in its baccalaureate programs for academic year 2014–2015. In addition, the grant provides faculty stipends for the development of eight new entry-level courses and related expenses for activities to recruit minority students for both baccalaureate programs.  

Despite an increase in nursing student enrollments in recent years, there is a continuing need to expand the pipeline of baccalaureate-educated nurses in Maryland based on projected future demand—and a growing body of evidence that links better patient outcomes to nurses with a BSN or higher degree. At the same time, U.S. policy makers and nursing groups agree that a more diverse nursing workforce is needed nationwide to reduce the health disparities that exist among growing minority populations.

Both NDMU baccalaureate programs currently significantly exceed the state share of minority population. Thirty-five percent of the students in the RN-to-BSN programs were minorities in fall 2013. In the entry-level BSN program, 49 percentof the first class of 45 junior-level nursing majors in fall 2013 were from minority backgrounds.

Notre Dame of Maryland is one of the region’s top educators of bedside nurses, and more than 95 percent of its graduates work in Maryland hospitals and health care facilities. The entry-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, launched in 2010, will add up to 50 undergraduate nursing majors each year to the University’s respected adult programs that have prepared more than 2,000 nursing graduates since 1982. By fall 2014, the School of Nursing will have a total of 18 full-time faculty, 22 adjunct faculty, five staff members and two administrators to educate traditional-aged and adult nurses for Maryland hospitals.