In an attempt to help both the state and national shortage of healthcare workers, CT Health Horizons gave Sacred Heart University a $2.5 million grant in order to expand both the nursing program and the social work program.
According to a press release published by the university, “The grant is part of a three-year, $35 million initiative that CT Health Horizons has taken up in partnership with the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU). Its aim is to grow and diversify the next generation of nurses and social workers.”
The nationwide shortage of healthcare workers is evident. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported that, “The country faces a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, including 48,000 primary care physicians.”
According to the chair of undergraduate nursing, Dr. Heather Ferrillo, the funding from this grant is going towards many different aspects of the program.
“This funding is paramount to helping some of our students who are at risk for not graduating due to financial reasons and to support students who have a degree going into our second degree accelerated (SDA) program,” said Ferrillo.
Additionally, some of the funds will help faculty start a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. Ferrillo said that there is a major shortage in Mental Health (MH) providers.
“The reactions to this grant have been very positive. There is a lot of community interest in the PMHNP program and it will increase the number of MH providers which is desperately needed,” Ferrillo said. “The second degree students also have limited other opportunities for funding since they already have an undergraduate degree. So this will make it possible for SDA students to come to SHU.”
SHU’s social work program will also be heavily impacted by this grant which is being overseen by director of field education and clinical assistant professor Katherine Sallaku.
“Governor Lamont is making efforts to address any barriers to education and provide financial resources for social workers and nurses to stay in the state of Connecticut,” said Sallaku. “This has become pretty evident with the community partners that we see supporting our field education program.”
“I believe this grant is a piece of the puzzle to addressing the workforce shortage, and this is a way that the school of social work and Sacred Heart University can contribute to addressing this issue through financial support to students and accessing their education through tuition assistance. As well as eliminating barriers for students to progress from the Bachelor of Social Work program to the Master of Social Work program,” said Sallaku.
Students in both the nursing and social work programs will benefit from this grant.
“I think nursing is extremely important and I think the added faculty resulting from the grant could potentially help the retention rate by offering more support and resources to current students,” said sophomore nursing student, Tori Miller.