Cleveland Foundation announces grant for pre-nursing program at Ursuline College to diversify region’s nursing workforce

Initiative addresses nursing shortage, career prep for underrepresented students

Release Date: 5.10.2017

While Northeast Ohio faces a critical shortage of registered nurses, some would-be nurses graduate from the region’s high schools every year needing additional instruction and coaching to prepare for the rigors of nursing school. To address the nursing shortage, open doors of opportunity to prospective nurses, and help diversify the region’s nursing workforce, the Cleveland Foundation’s board of directors has approved a $147,734 grant to fund an innovative Pre-Nursing program at Ursuline College’s Breen School of Nursing. This new cohort-style program will provide academic, social and financial support for 15 Pre-Nursing students in the upcoming academic year. Students will also have opportunities to earn money and bedside-care experience while still in college.

Two nursing students pictured in the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust Nursing Skills Lab.

Ursuline nursing students in the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust Nursing Skills Lab.

The new Pre-Nursing program will launch in August 2017 and applications are being accepted through May 17. Admission is open to all high school seniors who meet the requirements. Eligible students must reside in or attend high school in Cleveland or contiguous suburbs and come from under-represented racial, ethnic, and/or socioeconomic backgrounds. The average scholarship award funded through this program will be $14,700 per student enrolled in 12 credits. After two years of grant-funded support, students may apply for existing Ursuline scholarships.

“The Cleveland Foundation is pleased to partner with Ursuline College on this holistic approach to help fill the nursing shortage in our community,” said Cleveland Foundation program officer Kimalon Meriweather. “This program addresses the most common barriers to success in nursing school for underrepresented groups and provides the opportunity and resources needed to be successful.” 

Sister Christine De Vinne, OSU, PhD, president of Ursuline College, credited Patricia Sharpnack, DNP, dean of the Breen School, with carefully reviewing available research when designing the new Pre-Nursing program. “Dr. Sharpnack and her colleagues looked at data on the nursing shortage, the importance of diversity in the workforce and the very real barriers to success faced by under-prepared nursing students. We are proud to partner with the Cleveland Foundation to provide this evidence-based program that will help close academic gaps and prepare more students to serve as competent, compassionate nurses in the Ursuline tradition.”

Sharpnack, who is president of the Ohio Board of Nursing, said “We know from the research that the most effective programs are those which focus on assisting students to establish high levels of self sufficiency and personal accountability through things like effective study skills, strong support systems, and role models who demonstrate professionalism.”

Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing graduates approximately 100 students annually with the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. In recent years, 100 percent of Breen School graduates have entered the nursing profession post licensure.

Significantly, students in the new program will take a community college course to prepare for the STNA (State Tested Nurses’ Aide) certification exam. “The ability to be employed in a position that supports the student, while developing hard and soft skills for future employment, is critical to the success of students in this program,” Sharpnack said.

The Pre-Nursing program also features fully-funded intensive summer bridge programs; subsidies to cover the costs of test fees, test preparation and other requirements for licensure; intensive academic advising and tutoring; professional nurse mentors who reflect the diversity of the student population; and student transportation support. The program is designed to enable a successful transition to the nursing program. Participants can expect to complete the BSN in five years.

Eligible students will have expressed a desire to earn a degree in nursing but will not have met the academic requirements for admission to Ursuline’s BSN program at the time of high school graduation.

“This program is designed to create an environment where students from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who do not yet meet the requirements for admission to our nursing program can achieve a successful transition to academic work at the collegiate level,” Sister De Vinne said.

More information about the process, deadlines, application requirements and upcoming campus information sessions is available here.