The federal government has taken aim at increasing the diversity in the nursing profession. To start, they are pumping resources into the classrooms that train future healthcare professionals.
The Department of Health and Human Services will award $96 million in grants and low-interest loans to further the educations of students in healthcare studies, nursing, and nurse education. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the funding, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – better known as the stimulus package.
The funding will go to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are ethnic minorities. An estimated 28,000 students will benefit from over $66 million provided through grants and scholarships. The remaining $30 million will target those pursuing master and doctoral degrees in nursing. The idea is to encourage people to pursue a career path of teaching nurses, a much-needed skill in the demanding nursing profession.
More nursing students in classrooms now can begin to address the shortage of nurses in healthcare settings. A fact sheet from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing confirms that the current 3.6% uptick in students seeking nursing degrees still cannot keep up with demand.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, nursing schools need to graduate 90 percent more nurses to keep up with demand. The need is particularly acute with minority students, who oftentimes bridge critical social gaps when working in under-served communities.