Nursing Grant Could Be a ‘Total Game Changer’

By Carol Davis

The MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP) will help break the nation’s nursing bottleneck caused by lack of instructors with a grant of nearly $6 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to produce nurse educators.

The IHP’s Nursing Expansion Grant is one of 25 totaling more than $78 million that the labor department recently awarded to nursing programs in 17 states to address critical staffing challenges and to strengthen and diversify the workforce.

The IHP, Mass General Brigham’s only degree-granting affiliate, will receive $5.885 million over five years, the second-largest grant in the country, just behind the University of California, Davis, which received $5.999 million.

The money will be used to educate nurses who want to teach in nursing programs or be clinical instructors, according to IHP, noting that the new 2023 Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing regulations require all nursing faculty to have a master’s degree in nursing or National League for Nursing certification as a nurse educator with expertise in the clinical setting.

The grant will pay the full tuition and expenses of 224 nurses who enroll in one of IHP’s three nurse education programs: MS in leadership in nursing education (MS-LNE), post-master’s certificate in nursing education (PMC-NE), or continuing professional development (CPD) certified academic clinical nurse educator (CNEcl) preparation course.

“This is what we do—prepare the next generation of nursing leaders; it’s what the IHP has been doing for decades and this is simply an extension of that,” said Kenneth White, PhD, AGACNP, ACHPN, FACHE, FAAN, dean of the school of nursing.

“Focusing on the numbers of nurses is not the only solution; we have to focus on the number of instructors, and that’s what this grant is doing,” said White, who also is president of the American Academy of Nursing.

The need is considerable. Nursing schools had to turn away more than 78,000 qualified applications in 2022 alone due to lack of faculty and training sites, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Even more concerning, 10,000 applications were turned away from graduate programs, further limiting the pool of potential nurse educators, according to AACN.

“There’s limited capacity now to train new nurses, and one of the key constraints to increasing nursing pipelines is availability of qualified faculty in nursing schools, said MJ Ryan, senior director of workforce development and economic opportunity human resources for Mass General Brigham.

“Without expanding nursing faculty, you cannot expand nursing classrooms nor grow the workforce that MGB and all healthcare organizations need now, and in the future,” said Ryan, who collaborated with MGB nurse leaders and the IHP to help initiate the grant application.

The IHP’s Nursing Expansion Grant will have a cumulative effect on nursing, Ryan noted.

“When you think about this many nurse educators being trained and multiply that by the impact they could have in a year educating hundreds of future nurses, this is truly a systemic change” she said. “I think anything that we can do to make a dent in the thousands of people being turned away from nursing programs, because of faculty limitations, has the potential to be a total game changer.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.