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home > media center > release 03-21-06

Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation Responds to Shortage of Nurse Educators
New Nursing Education Capacity Initiatives Announced

Harrisburg, PA - March 21, 2006 - As part of continuing efforts to alleviate Pennsylvania’s growing shortage of nurses, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation in cooperation with The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) held an event today to brief area educators and health care leaders on the new Nursing Education Capacity Initiatives.

In a briefing held at the Boyce Campus of the Community College of Allegheny County for over 30 area nursing schools and hospitals, six new nursing education programs were highlighted encouraging current nurses to return to school, earn their graduate degrees and teach the next generation of nurses.

  • The Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program forgives up to $50,000 of qualified loan debt, provided that the applicant agrees to work three to five years as a new nurse educator at an approved Pennsylvania postsecondary nursing school.
  • The Graduate Nurse Education Grant Program awards scholarship funds to graduate nursing schools within Pennsylvania, to be used to increase enrollment and improve retention for students pursuing a graduate degree in nursing in order to teach.
  • The Nurse Faculty Lines Program provides funds annually to non-profit, tax-exempt Pennsylvania schools of nursing to underwrite nursing faculty positions. The initial round of awards, subject to available funding, will provide $50,000 per line, renewable for a minimum of three years, to increase teaching faculty at an institution.
  • Supplemental Funding for Practical Nursing Programs allows Pennsylvania schools with Practical Nursing Programs to submit a proposal for additional scholarship funding of their Practical Nursing students.
  • The Interim Student Loan Guarantee Program provides alternative loans to fund the unmet needs at Pennsylvania nursing schools prior to receiving FFELP eligibility. This will initially target new nursing schools, nursing schools attempting to reopen and nursing schools providing accelerated programs.
  • The Dr. McKenzie Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students is named in honor of the late Dr. Edna McKenzie, a distinguished educator, and a long-time member of the PHEAA Board and the Foundation Board. This program is currently under development with more details forthcoming.

These new programs join current Foundation nursing initiatives in addressing the critical shortage of qualified nursing care in Pennsylvania. They are a result of a cooperative effort with the Leadership Council of the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers.

“For the past three years the Foundation has been actively working to encourage students to consider a career in nursing,” said Michael H. Hershock, Foundation President and CEO. “We’re very proud of the success of these programs. In fact, they’ve been so successful that nursing schools are turning away applicants due to a lack of nursing educators. Therefore we’re focusing on fulfilling that need with these new nursing education initiatives.”

"Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems are proud of the results of the collaborative approach by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation, and the work of the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers under the statewide Workforce Investment Board," said Carolyn F. Scanlan, President and CEO of HAP. "We are graduating more nurses now and together can increase the availability of nursing education so that nurses are there to care for patients in the Commonwealth."

The Foundation’s current nursing initiatives include the Nursing Education Grant Program, the Nurse Scholars Program, the Nursing Loan Forgiveness for Healthier Futures program, the Tax Credit Program for Low Income Nursing Students, the Big 33 Nursing Scholarship Program and the Penn HOSA Scholarship Program.

“PHEAA has worked closely as a partner on several of the Foundation’s nursing initiatives,” said Representative Joseph Markosek, a member of the PHEAA Board of Directors and a speaker at today’s event. “Their mission is a perfect match for our own of creating affordable access to higher education. We pledge our continued support of their education initiatives as they work to address and resolve areas of critical need throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Foundation’s programs are funded through the generosity of community-minded donors, including PHEAA and HAP, who share the Foundation’s concern for today’s nurses. In most cases, donors may also direct their contribution to the Pennsylvania nonprofit nursing school of their choosing.

For additional information about the Foundation’s initiatives or to inquire about donation opportunities, contact the Foundation office at (717) 720-3961 or visit www.HigherEdFoundation.org.

Further information on the new nursing education programs, as well as applications and eligibility requirements, can be found at www.FuturesInNursing.org.

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