Hadley Foundation funds fellowship/loan program to address nursing shortage

More than 126,000 nursing positions are unfilled today and that number is expected to skyrocket just as 78 million aging Baby Boomers begin placing unprecedented demands on America's health care system.

Recognizing growing shortages of nurses in America's hospitals, the Hadley Foundation Inc. has announced a plan to address the local nursing shortage in Ellis County.

The Board of Directors of the foundation is funding a special nursing fellowship/loan program through the Fort Hays State University Endowment Association and administered by the FHSU Student Fiscal Services. The board will also fund a similar program administered by Hays Medical Center for associate degree of nursing students at North Central Kansas Technical College. The programs are planned to encourage nurses to stay in Ellis County as long as possible by tying loan forgiveness to area service with HMC.

Board member Dave Van Doren had requested a proposal addressing the nursing shortage for the board to consider. Dr Mary Hassett, chair of FHSU?s Department of Nursing, submitted a proposal titled: "Hadley Foundation Ellis County Nursing Fellowship/Loan Fund: Addressing the Nursing Shortage." Hassett presented the proposal at a special Hadley Foundation Board of Directors meeting, along with information on national, state and local nursing shortages. Hassett said that the number of graduating nurses under age of 30 has declined 41 percent since 1983 and that an additional 450,000 U.S. nurses will be needed by 2008. The Kansas Hospital Association has documented that a severe shortage of caregivers, including nurses, is limiting hospitals' capacities to care for patients. Hassett indicated that special nursing student funds would definitely enhance recruitment into nursing for the Ellis County area.

The Hadley Foundation Board of Directors voted to fund the proposal for the 2003-04 school year: $35,000 for Fort Hays State University basic BSN nursing students and $15,000 for Northwest Central Kansas Technical College ADN nursing students. Nursing students are eligible if they agree to work for Hays Medical Center as licensed registered nurses after graduation.

If graduates fully comply with the agreement, no loan payback will be required. The goal of Hadley Foundation's support is to ease the shortage of registered nurses in Ellis County. The Hadley Foundation Board of Directors will review the fellowship/loan program annually for possible continuing support.

"While there are currently shortages of other health care personnel, nurses are the primary source of care and support for patients at the most vulnerable points in their lives," said Van Doren.

"Nearly every person's health care experience involves a nurse. Birth, death and all the various forms of care in between are attended by the knowledge, support and comfort of nurses. The Hadley Foundation is pleased to be a part of providing a solution to the nursing shortage locally."

Questions about the Hadley Foundation special nursing student funds should be directed to: Professor Dianna Koerner for Fort Hays State University, (785) 628-4523, e-mail dkoerner@fhsu.edu, or Sandra Gottschalk for North Central Kansas Technical College, (785) 625-2437, e-mail sgottschalk@ncktc.tec.ks.us.

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