Contact: Allison Benner, College Relations Associate – Media, 610-740-3790



Three-Year Study will Develop National Model with Special Focus on Minority Nursing Students


Allentown, PA (October 4, 2006) – According to recent federal projections, the United States faces a growing shortage of nurses that could reach to 800,000 within the next 15 years.  Compounding the issue is the low percentage of the basic nursing workforce that is prepared at the baccalaureate level.  As part of its effort to address the shortage, the Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resource and Services Administration has awarded the Cedar Crest College Nursing Department a grant totaling more than $900,000 to develop and implement tactics that address critical areas of nurse education programs including enrollment and retention.  The Cedar Crest program will pay particular attention to both minority nursing students and urban healthcare needs.

"With this funding, Cedar Crest will develop solutions to enrollment and graduation barriers faced by baccalaureate schools of nursing nationwide, enabling them to meet the demand for baccalaureate nurses," says Dr. Laurie Murray, chair of the nursing program at Cedar Crest.  "Our location in the city of Allentown also provides the appropriate environment for us to address the specific healthcare needs of urban populations: the need for greater minority representation among the nursing population and a nurse workforce educated to work in a multicultural healthcare environment."

The grant funding will be utilized over a period of three years to accomplish three main goals.  The first goal is to increase enrollment by enhancing recruiting efforts, particularly to minority students, and developing a Year-Round Nursing Program.  Another goal is to reduce attrition (the number of student nurses who do not complete their degree) by developing an enrollment and retention study that will examine risk factors and propose solutions, and also develop a comprehensive network of academic support to improve the graduation rate.  Finally, the program aims to transform the cultural competence focus of its nursing program through faculty development and curriculum design

Murray concedes that baccalaureate nursing programs can be challenging and rigorous even for academically strong students.  "As educators working closely with our students, we've noticed, albeit anecdotally, that those with a higher level of support, both academic and social, tend to have a greater success rate in the nursing program.  This grant will allow us to evaluate and assess those assumptions and proffer actionable programs that will help students take on those challenges, like time management, test taking and stress management."

In addition to student support, Cedar Crest will examine the ways that nursing education needs to adapt to the particular needs of an urban community with an aging, economically underserved and culturally diverse population.  The College is planning to hold a nursing conference to address this topic and will also embark on new marketing and community programs to increase enrollment of minority students in the baccalaureate nursing program.

The ultimate goal of the project, which is in the planning and early action stages this fall, is to offer the knowledge gained as a national model for other baccalaureate schools of nursing to implement, resulting in increased numbers of nurses entering the workforce.  At the same time, each piece of the program will aim to better prepare future nurses for the 21st century healthcare environment while improving the overall quality of patient care delivery.

For more information, please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.



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