Thomas Edison State University (TESU) has been awarded $2,761,271 as part of the Nursing Expansion Grant Program by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program is designed to support public-private partnerships that expand and diversify the nursing workforce, with a particular focus on developing professional pathways for frontline healthcare professionals to advance in their careers.
TESU plans to use the funds to create career pathways designed to fill a critical nursing shortage in psychiatric mental health nursing by providing scholarships to support students in programs from the RN to the MSN levels. New Jersey ranks 26th in the country for mental health providers per capita, according to the McKinsey and Co, Public Health Dashboard, and the need is high in Mercer County. The University will partner with two New Jersey state institutions: Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and Ancora Psychiatric Hospital as well as private Capital Health as employer partners to help ease shortages across a variety of mental health nursing positions. The Gloucester County Workforce Development Board and the New Jersey State Nurses Association round out the public-private partnership supported by the grant as well as two community college pipelines, Mercer County Community College and Raritan Valley Community College. TESU is one of 25 organizations across 17 states to receive federal funding.
In response to the announcement, President Merodie A. Hancock, PhD said: “Receiving notification of this award during Mental Health Awareness month could not be more appropriate. Our communities are increasingly aware of the importance of skilled mental health and psychiatric care and this grant will enable us to expand our nursing program and support psychiatric mental health education. At TESU, we are committed to providing accessible and innovative education to a diverse student population. This grant furthers that mission by increasing the number of qualified nursing professionals in this critical sector of the workforce.”
The Nursing Expansion Grant Program aims to address the significant staffing challenges facing the nursing profession, as projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By supporting innovative partnerships and strategies that expand and diversify America’s pipeline of qualified nursing professionals, the program will help to ensure the nation’s well-being and strengthen our care economy using proven practices and strategies, according to U.S. Department of Labor projections.
The funding will also help grant recipients improve diversity in the healthcare workforce and address the health equity gap in America’s underserved communities by embedding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility strategies into their programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. By doing so, the programs will ensure students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities have pathways to good jobs and careers in nursing.