Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LifeBridge Health commits to Who Will Care? initiative

Training the next generation of nurses and nurse educators is the goal of the Maryland Hospital Association's new Who Will Care? initiative, which aims to double the number of nurse graduates in Maryland. To signify its commitment, LifeBridge Health has pledged $1 million to help fund the program.

The need is great: between 2000 and 2020, there is an anticipated 40 percent increase in the demand for nurses, compared to a projected 6 percent growth in the supply of nurses. In 2007, Maryland hospitals reported an average vacancy rate of 10 percent. Projections show the nursing shortage could grow to over 10,000 R.N.s by 2016. If nothing is done, the result will be limits to health care access, delays in treatment, excessive cost escalation, more provider stress and other compromises to ensuring health care effectiveness.

The only remedy is to train and hire more R.N.s. Yet, 1,850 qualified candidates for nursing were not admitted to Maryland’s colleges and universities in 2006 because programs were full.

Two-thirds of the LifeBridge Health donation will directly benefit nursing schools at the University of Maryland, Stevenson University and Morgan State University. The rest will be placed in a general fund to help other nursing programs around the state.

LifeBridge Health is committed to assist the community with its growing health care needs by supporting local nursing programs,” said Warren Green, LifeBridge Health president and CEO. “Our pledge is one way that LifeBridge Health is working to maintain a steady stream of qualified nurses entering the local workforce.”

Who Will Care? 's goal is to double the number of Maryland students obtaining their first nursing degree. The campaign plans to raise $60 million from public and private sources to underwrite the cost of enrolling an additional 1,500 students per year in nursing programs.

By contributing to the effort, LifeBridge Health is signaling its support for the recruitment and retention of qualified nurse faculty, availability of clinical nursing instruction sites, implementation of educational technologies, and the development of nursing student retention programs.

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