It’s a more sustainable solution for our health system and our community’s health.
This fall marks the start of an innovative collaboration—one that tailors our ability to educate the next generation of nurses to the needs of an individual health system. Our partner in this endeavor is LCMC Health—a six hospital, non-profit, New Orleans-based health system that’s on a mission to serve residents and communities along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.
The LCMC Health Called-to-Care Scholars Program provides qualified students an opportunity to earn their nursing degree at Chamberlain University with up to three years of paid tuition in the form of a loan in exchange for an up to three-year employment pledge to LCMC Health upon graduating and passing the NCLEX®.
The chief nursing officer at LCMC’s West Jefferson Medical Center, Monica Bologna, MSN, RN, is one of the people at LCMC most excited about the potential of this partnership to alleviate future staffing difficulties. With three quarters of their first cohort of scholars coming from groups that are under-represented in nursing, in about two and a half years they’re positioned to have a steady stream of nurses graduating and joining their workforce. When we spoke, she was finally getting some relief from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and a surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 when we spoke.
Monica: Staffing has been a challenge. The nurses are receiving benefits for travel assignments that take them away from the hospital to COVID-19 hot spots. Really good staff members feel it’s an offer they can’t pass up. The nursing shortage is a crisis at this point.
Karen: And what people don’t realize is, it’s not a shortage of nurses; it’s a shortage of nurses willing and able to work in direct care positions in the places where they’re needed.
Monica: That’s why LCMC Health is making this investment in the Called-to-Care Scholars Program. There will not be enough graduates coming out of nursing schools to fill all the vacancies currently within our city, within our region. This unique partnership with Chamberlain will increase the pool of nursing students in our area. It’s a more sustainable solution for our health system and our community’s health.
Karen: And many of these future graduates will be coming from a different pool than the people who compete every year to get into most nursing programs. These are people who, most likely, wouldn’t be in a position to take three years to study full-time without LCMC Health‘s upfront financial investment in their education.
Monica: We are extremely excited to see patient care technicians and medical assistants who have worked in our clinics taking this opportunity to move their careers forward. Three quarters of our first cohort of scholars come from groups that are under-represented in nursing, and in about two and a half years we’ll have a steady stream of nurses graduating and joining our ranks.
Karen: The Called-to-Care Scholars will be doing almost all their on-site clinical education in your system. That’s another unique feature of this program that should help reduce turnover.
Monica: Yes. We’ll be able to orient them to the culture at LCMC Health, so they don’t leave after a year, which is another big problem in hospital staffing. We’re also thinking about how we train them to be the next operating room nurse or the next neuro-critical care nurse, so we’re very excited about our ability to tailor components of the program to prepare graduates to meet specific health system needs.
Karen: You bring up an important point. In education, we want to ensure we help students figure out the best place for them to practice. I think that is one of the reasons so many nurses change jobs after a year in practice. We need to take better advantage of clinical education placements to really make sure nurses have a clear understanding of the expectations in a given specialty practice area.
Monica: Agreed. I knew in our discussions that our institutions are very much aligned. Chamberlain is focused on diversity, inclusion and the overall experience of the nursing student. Our mission is to serve and to treat the whole patient. And we see nurses as the conduit to providing care to the community. We are thrilled to have Chamberlain as a partner in this endeavor. It’s an exciting opportunity for people to be able to move forward in their careers and follow their dreams.
Interested in learning more about the LCMC Health Called-to-Care Scholars Program? Our website has the details. I hope this collaboration becomes a model for other health systems that want to invest in nursing talent. In September, the American Nurses Association (ANA) called on the Department of Health and Human Services to declare a “national nurse staffing crisis” in light of the strains hospitals are facing almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Creative solutions, such as the Called-to-Care Scholars Program, will be essential to growing the nursing workforce and sustaining healthcare institutions for the future.
Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN
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