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October 30, 2007

Contact: Patricia Adams

School of Nursing and Carefirst Partner to Tackle Maryland's Nursing Shortage

Baltimore, Md. — One of the keys to tackling Maryland's nursing shortage is finding ways to address the lack of nursing faculty needed to educate new nurses. A collaborative effort between the University of Maryland School of Nursing and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has resulted in the development of a new regional scholarship to promote graduate nursing education. An advanced degree will qualify graduates to become faculty members who can teach nursing students at all levels. Dubbed “Project RN,” the scholarship program will help students complete their degree within two years by providing them with financial support.

Fran Valle, MS, CRNP, a student in the School of Nursing's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, was recently awarded the first Project RN scholarship, which includes $40,000 per year for tuition, fees, books, and living stipend for a period of two years. Valle, like all funded scholars in the program, will be required to commit to working as a full-time faculty member for four years in a Baltimore-Washington, D.C. nursing school.

“I am honored by this award and I am looking forward to the pursuit of my DNP degree at the University of Maryland School of Nursing,” said Valle. "The Project RN Scholarship is allowing me to realize my true passion and ambition: giving back to my profession as a nursing faculty member.”

Maryland nursing schools turned away nearly 1,500 qualified applicants in 2006, due largely to an insufficient number of faculty members to teach them. The shortage is expected to worsen in the next decade as a wave of faculty retirements is anticipated across the nation.

“Financial support for our DNP students is essential to impacting the nurse faculty shortage,” says Kathryn Lothschuetz Montgomery, PhD, RN, associate dean for organizational partnerships, outreach, and clinical enterprise at the School of Nursing. “This program demonstrates the need for finding creative ways to start closing the gap on the nurse faculty shortage.”

“Nurses are a critical part of any health care team. Looking at the potential impact of this effort conservatively, this program could lead to the education of more than 200 nurses throughout the region,” explained Gregory A. Devou, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield. “Project RN is a key component of our broader CareFirst Commitment effort to improve patient safety and care quality.”

Call 410-706-7522 for more information about the Project RN Scholarship.

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