SON Receives Nearly $1 Million Grant to Diversify Workforce

The School of Nursing hopes to attract a diverse set of students to its undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
August 13, 2012

The grant will address the shortage of racially and economically diverse nursing professionals in the D.C. region and rural Virginia.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration – a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – awarded the George Washington University School of Nursing (SON) a three-year grant totaling nearly $1 million to increase the number and diversity of nursing professionals in Washington, D.C. and rural Virginia.

The grant will support the school’s Success in Nursing Education project, which aims to specifically attract African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, male and economically disadvantaged students into the nursing profession and fill the shortage of nurses in the D.C. and rural Virginia areas.

“This grant is extremely important to the School of Nursing in fulfilling our mission to educate a diverse nursing workforce,” said Jean Johnson, SON dean. “Being able to develop and implement a program that provides a strong support system is what will make a major difference in helping our students be successful while responding to this critical need.”

A systematic recruitment plan will be developed to target potential students who are changing careers, already have a degree in another field and who also live in a medically underserved or health professional shortage area. SON offers an accelerated bachelor of science program at GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Va. as well as several online programs including an associate’s to bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree with specific concentrations and a doctorate of nursing practice. Online programs require students to come to the GW campus three times a year, and students can fulfill the clinical requirements in their home communities.

“By offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing, we are confident that we can help meet the demand of nurses both in number and diversity,” said Ellen Dawson, a SON nursing professor and the principal investigator and program director of the grant. “We expect our program will allow rural communities to have access to a greater number of primary care providers, and urban and suburban communities will likewise benefit from a greater number of primary care nurses.”

SON will launch a marketing and recruitment outreach campaign using print, mail and social media mediums to reach prospective students. On-campus and virtual “open house” sessions geared specifically to the program’s target audience will provide prospective students with the opportunity to meet faculty and ask questions about the program.

The Success in Nursing Education program will also provide support to students once enrolled in one of SON’s degree programs. SON will utilize retention tools such as a culturally-conscious mentoring program based on a national model and a peer-support study group that will teach effective study skills. The grant is also providing scholarships and other financial aid for students who meet the recruitment criteria.

“The success of the grant lies in the recruitment and most importantly the retention of these students,” said Dr. Dawson. “Creating an atmosphere where the students have the tools and the mentoring to be successful is critical to their future and to the future of diversifying our nursing workforce.”

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