June 18, 2021
Ursuline College has been approved for a $2.2 million federal grant to help improve diversity in the nursing workforce.
Funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help the College improve wrap-around support services for undergraduate nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a focus on Black students and other underrepresented minorities.
“We are extremely gratified that the Health Resources and Services Administration saw value in our proposed initiatives and that the grant reviewers have confidence in our ability to make a difference in health care,” said Ursuline College President Sister Christine De Vinne, OSU, PhD. “These efforts align well with Ursuline’s mission of transforming students for service, leadership, and professional excellence.”
Titled STAR Scholars (for Success, Transformation, Achieve, Resilience), the Ursuline program aims to increase graduation rates for under-represented nursing students and further diversify the nursing workforce serving Greater Cleveland. To do this, the STAR program will:
- Improve social and academic support services, including mentoring, tutoring, and a three-week Summer Institute
- Fund student scholarships
- Provide faculty with professional development to improve instruction and increase sensitivity to the unique needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Recruit and retain more nursing faculty members of color
“The STAR Scholars program will help address health inequities in our community by increasing the pipeline of diverse nurses entering the profession, and by increasing awareness among all nursing graduates of disparities and social determinants of health,” said Patricia A. Sharpnack, DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, dean of the Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions. “More than 90% of Breen School of Nursing alumni work in designated Medically Underserved Communities following graduation, given the location of our college in Northeast Ohio and the prevalence of health disparities in the surrounding community.”
Ranked the #2 nursing program in Ohio by Nurse.org, Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions boasts a 100% job placement rate, post-licensure, and passage rates consistently over 90% on the national nurse licensing exam. Most Ursuline students are from Northeast Ohio and remain in the region post-graduation, helping support Cleveland’s growing need for nurses.
Ursuline enrolls approximately 200 undergraduate nursing students annually in the traditional four-year BSN track, of whom some 70% meet criteria for “disadvantaged”, meaning they have low-incomes, are in the first generation in their family to attend college, are from high schools with high poverty, and/or are students of color.
HRSA announced that Ursuline will receive $555,000 per year, renewable for four years.
Research indicates that a lack of diversity in the health care workforce contributes to lack of cultural aptitude, patient mistrust, and health and healthcare disparities. “The diversity within the greater Cleveland population and the deficient representation of minorities in the nursing profession, coupled with the intensifying nursing shortage, require nursing programs to be strategic in their efforts to recruit and retain students from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Health disparities are heightened by the underrepresentation of minorities in health professions and the critical shortage of primary care professionals,” Dr. Sharpnack said.
The STAR program will build upon Ursuline’s current enrollment initiatives, including:
- The ASPIRE Scholar program with Cleveland Clinic, funded by the Howley Foundation, which provides high school students exposure to the nursing profession, skill development, and opportunities for scholarships
- Nursing Faculty Speaker Series offered to Northeast Ohio high schools to inform students, teachers, and guidance counselors about opportunities in the nursing profession and the high school courses needed for a successful foundation.
- Collaborations with community-based organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, Esperanza, College Now, and Say Yes to Education Cleveland
- Holistic admissions process, which will be enhanced through technical assistance from American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)