Nash UNC Health Care Hosts "Signing Day" Event for New Nurse Scholars
BY AMELIA HARPER
Nash UNC Health Care held its first Nurse Scholars Program Signing Day Event on Wednesday to welcome future nurses to the fold.
The Nurse Scholars Program is the result of a partnership between the hospital and Nash Community College. The goal of this year’s partnership is to offer up to 15 nursing scholarships this year for students in the nursing program at Nash Community College. The program will fully fund the cost of the student’s education at NCC, plus as monthly stipend for high-achieving students pursuing an associate degree in nursing.
The scholarship will fund up to two years of a student’s education and offers immediate hiring upon graduation. In return, nurse scholars will be committed to work full-time for up to three years at Nash UNC Health Care.
“I think this program solidifies a partnership we have had with Nash UNC Health Care for decades,” said Trent Morhbutter, vice president for instruction and chief academic officer for Nash Community College. “I think this program also speaks to the quality of graduates we produce.”
To qualify for the nurse scholar program, applicants must be enrolled in the nursing program at Nash Community College, have a 3.0 grade point average, two letters of recommendation and submit a personal statement about their commitment to nursing, said Katie Davison, executive director of Nash UNC Health Care.
Hospitals face a looming nursing shortage. Dr. Crystal Hayden, chief nursing officer at Nash UNC Health Care, said experts expect there to be a need for an estimated one million nurses by 2024. The nursing shortage is already affecting Nash UNC Health Care. Placing patients from the emergency department into rooms is a problem, not because of a shortage of beds, but because of a shortage of nurses. Nash UNC Health Care is trying to address the issue in the short term by hiring temporary “travel nurses” and by paying overtime to nurses already hired. Both are expensive options.
Hayden said the nationwide nursing shortage is primarily due to three factors: baby boomers who have reached the age that they need more health care; a shortage of nursing faculty to teach in nursing programs; and an increase in the number of nurses retiring from the profession. By offering nurse scholarships, Nash UNC Health Care hopes to find a long-term solution to the nursing crisis.
Hayden said nursing is a great option for students looking for a stable and lucrative career, especially as registered nurses in this area typically earn $22 an hour to $23 an hour right out of nursing school with only a two-year degree.
“Nursing is a dynamic, multi-faceted field,” Hayden said. “You can do one job or 15 jobs during your career because there are so many nursing specialties like surgical nursing or pediatric nursing or emergency department nursing.”
At Wednesday’’s ceremony, each nurse scholar was paired with a past or present UNC Health Care employee for whom their scholarship was named.
“We thought this signing ceremony was also a good way to honor past and present employees or volunteers whose lives we want these students to emulate,” Davison said. “Each of the employees for whom these scholarships were named had to be nominated by fellow employees and this gave us a chance to honor them as well.”
Davison said Nash UNC Health Care hopes to be able to expand the program next year by including Edgecombe Community College in the partnership and offering a total of 30 scholarships to nursing students in both schools.
As Hayden welcomed new nursing scholars to the Nash UNC Health Care “family” on Wednesday, she gave one final piece of advice to her future employees.
“Nursing will be the toughest, most heart-breaking, most challenging blessing of your life,” Hayden said.