Samford University’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has received a federal grant designed to help ease the national shortage of nursing educators. Samford is the only nursing program in north and central Alabama to receive the funds, and one of only two – the other is the University of South Alabama -- in the state.
The $805,595 grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, will provide loans for graduate and doctoral students pursuing an advanced degree with the intent to serve as faculty in a school of nursing.
The Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) addresses a critical need in health care, according to Associate Dean Jane S. Martin. Students who receive the loans for master’s or doctoral degree programs can have up to 85 percent of the loan forgiven in exchange for service as full-time nursing faculty members at an accredited school of nursing.
The 2011 grant will fund up to 25 new students, Martin said. Currently 47 Samford nursing graduate students receive funds from the loan program, and students can continue to receive loans as long as they maintain good academic standing. The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing hopes to extend NFLP funds to every qualified nurse educator student in the 2011-12 year, Martin explained.
The NFLP was approved by Congress in 2002, and Samford was one of the first 55 nursing schools from across the U.S. to receive funds. For academic year 2011-12, 110 NFLP grants were awarded to institutions across the U.S., and Samford received the sixth largest award. To date, Samford has received more than $2 million in NFLP grants.
“There is a national shortage of both nurses and nurse educators, and the NFLP provides a great incentive to pursue a career in education,” said Martin. “Without highly trained educators, we cannot adequately prepare future generations of nurses.”
The nursing educator shortage impacts a school’s ability to admit qualified applicants, Martin explained. According to a study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nursing schools turned away more than 67,500 qualified applicants in 2010. More than two-thirds of the schools participating in the survey cited faculty shortages as a primary reason for not accepting all qualified applicants, she noted.
“To date, 103 Samford students have benefited from NFLP grants and are serving as nursing educators across the country” said Martin. “Our unique online curriculum allows us to extend our efforts to address the nursing faculty shortage far beyond Alabama.”
In a September 2010 study by the AACN, 880 faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 556 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country, according to Martin. In addition to the vacancies, schools cited the need to create an additional 257 faculty positions to accommodate student demand.
“These federal dollars assist in the recruitment of high quality students for our programs and in the training of excellent nurse educators who will prepare the nurses of the future,” said Martin.
Individuals interested in pursuing an advanced degree in nurse education should visit http://nursing.samford.edu to apply or call 205-726-2047 for more information.