Governor Phil Scott and the Agency of Human Services (AHS) has awarded $5.125 million to four key healthcare institutions to bolster Vermont’s nursing workforce. Successful applicants include University of Vermont Health Network, Northwestern Medical Center, Southern Vermont Medical Center, and Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community.
The grants seek to address barriers to workforce growth, such as a shortage of clinical educators and financial obstacles for prospective students. The initiative will provide tuition assistance, paid release time or study stipends, and clinical support at the worksite. It aims to draw new students into Vermont nursing programs and facilitate advanced degree education for existing nurses.
“Working to address our workforce shortage across all sectors is critical, but we know it’s acutely impacting the nursing and healthcare sector,” said Governor Scott. “These investments will go along way to help attract and retain talent here in Vermont.”
“We are thrilled to make this investment to increase the number of nurses in Vermont,” AHS Secretary Jenney Samuelson said. “At the same time, by also supporting advanced degrees, we will increase the number of nurse educators and build capacity to train even more nurses. This program supports both immediate and longer-term healthcare workforce needs.”
The funds, proposed by the Governor and appropriated through Act 183 and additional federal State Fiscal Recovery funds, will enable healthcare workers to pursue nursing career pathways while maintaining paid employment. The program also provides academic and wraparound support, supports current nurses in becoming eligible clinical educators, and offers financial incentives for eligible healthcare employees to take on clinical educator roles.
“These grant awards will provide critical funding as we launch unique partnerships with institutions of higher learning in Vermont and create pathways to rewarding careers,” noted Jerry Baake, Director of Workforce Development for UVM Health Network. “This is an opportunity for established healthcare professionals to enrich their careers and guide the development of nurses-in-training for years to come.”
“Without this grant, many qualified, competent, caring Licensed Nursing Assistant at Cedar Hill could not afford to advance their careers to become nurses and LPNs could not afford to become RNs. This grant is transformative for their lives, for our independent nursing home and assisted living community, and for our current and future residents, who deserve high quality care,” said Patricia Horn, Community Executive Director of Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community in Windsor, Vt.
“NMC is honored to be a recipient of the Nursing Apprenticeship and Pipeline Grant and feel fortunate to be able to offer this opportunity to our team members. The support provided by this grant allows for individuals to remain whole and intact from a financial perspective by maintaining full-time employment with paid work release time to focus on academics, while also supporting the individuals with social and academic support to ensure their success as an adult learner. This opportunity is giving people the chance to become a nurse, which for some has been a lifelong goal, and has the support structure in place to make that goal a reality.”
“Growing our skilled and compassionate nursing team is essential to the future of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) and the exceptional care we provide,” said Pamela Duchene, PhD, APRN, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services. “The Nursing Apprenticeship and Pipeline Grants from AHS have created a unique opportunity for our student cohorts to find balance between work and education, while giving SVMC the opportunity to implement an innovative program that supports workforce development and long-term sustainability.”
AHS’ $1.5 million grant to the University of Vermont Health Network will specifically support tuition and other education expenses for Health Network employees enrolling in an accelerated BSN program developed in partnership with Norwich University. This program provides individuals with non-nursing-related training a 15-month pathway to earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). The funds will also support a two-year Master of Nursing program launched in partnership with Vermont State University and Norwich University, tailored to individuals who already have a BSN and want to pursue clinical instruction opportunities at all Vermont colleges of nursing.