New Freeman Foundation Gift Will Help Address Pressing Need for Nursing Faculty
By Jennifer Nachbur Article published March 8, 2005
Since 2001, and the inception of such initiatives as the Freeman Nurse Scholars Program, applications to Vermont nursing schools have increased more than 200 percent. But now, all five of Vermont’s nursing schools are faced with the unthinkable — turning away qualified applicants. The reason: not enough faculty members. Now the Freeman Foundation is again taking the lead in addressing a nursing need with a $1.5 million gift to help develop more nursing faculty.
“We can’t do more to solve this nurse shortage until the faculty shortage is addressed,” says Toni Kaeding, research associate in nursing and coordinator of the Freeman Nurse Scholars program. “It is ironic that we have worked so hard to attract strong candidates to a nursing career and now are turning them away at the door.”
Nationally, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that more than 11,000 qualified students were turned away from baccalaureate nursing programs due to a faculty vacancy rate of 8.6 percent and rising. This is in the face of a growing nursing shortage, which is expected to worsen well into the next decade.
In order to teach college-level courses, nurses are required to have a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. Less than five percent of Vermont’s nurses meet such qualifications, and many of those who hold advanced degrees are employed in clinical practice or administration, where salaries are higher than in teaching.
As it has in the past, the Freeman Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to the health care of Vermonters by recognizing and helping to address this problem. The Stowe-based organization pledged to provide $1.545 million over three years, augmenting the Freeman Nurse Scholars program with substantial financial support for nurses who are interested in graduate nursing education. The Freeman Foundation hopes that their efforts will encourage the state and other health care organizations to follow suit by offering additional support in this area of need.
Applicants accepted into a graduate nursing program who are interested in teaching are eligible for up to $17,000 per year for a maximum of $34,000. Five scholarships will be awarded in 2005. Nurses interested in a graduate scholarship must apply by April 1.
The undergraduate Freeman Nurse Scholar award is $7,500 annually for a maximum of $30,000 for bachelor’s of nursing degree students and a maximum of $15,000 for associate’s degree nursing students. A total of 50 undergraduate scholarships will be awarded through the program.
To date, the Freeman Nurse Scholars Program has awarded scholarships to 235 undergraduate Vermont nursing students, with the average total award being $12,000. For more information about the Freeman Nurse Scholars Program, interested students can either contact individual schools of nursing, call 656-5496, or e-mail email@example.com.