Excelsior College President John Ebersole today announced a three-year, $1,019,181 award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to assist qualified military veterans earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. President Ebersole was joined in making the announcement at today’s press conference by Dean of Nursing Dr. Mary Lee Pollard, Associate Dean of Nursing Dr. Barbara Pieper, Director of Veterans Services and Outreach Judy Reed, and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY).
“Health care systems increasingly prefer a bachelor’s degree as a minimum education credential for nurses,” said President Ebersole. “This grant will help make degree attainment possible for many more veterans, a population Excelsior has long committed to serving, while strengthening the nursing profession’s ability to meet the health care needs of the nation.”
According to HRSA, the purpose of the grant is four-fold:
- Develop a bachelor’s level nursing program targeted to the unique needs of veterans.
- Explore innovative educational models to award academic credit for prior health career experience/training or other relevant military training.
- Improve employment opportunities for veterans through high demand careers training.
- Address the growing national demand for registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees.
In 2010, a report issued by the Institute of Medicine, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, found a direct link between increased levels of education among nurses and improved patient outcomes and lower health care costs. The report led to, among other recommendations, a call for 80 percent of nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2020, as compared to approximately 55 percent today.
“We hope to address two significant issues facing our nation with this grant,” said Dr. Pieper, who also serves as director of the Robert E. Kinsinger Institute for Nursing Excellence at Excelsior. “While promoting degree attainment among qualified veterans, we will also infuse materials into our courses that increase awareness among all our nursing students of the health care needs of our military personnel, veterans, and their families.”
“As our veterans reenter civilian life and begin to look for quality jobs here in the Capital Region, programs like this will help more returning service members build their careers and strengthen middle-class communities in our region,” said Congress Tonko. “Additionally, our national health care needs will be greatly served by those with medical military training and the commitment and dedication our armed services instills in these heroes.”
Listen to Press Conference:
Excelsior College is home to the largestSchool of Nursing in the country, with more than 50,000 graduates worldwide. It is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), and is one of only 20 schools in the nation to be designated as a Center for Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. It has earned this honor three times. It is also designated as a Best School for Men in Nursing by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing.
Excelsior’s leaders believe the grant will have a considerable impact on their ability to attract more military and veterans to pursue nursing careers. Among Excelsior College’s 37,000 enrolled students, 34 percent are active duty servicemembers or veterans.
“Many in the military with medical training making preparations to transition out need to consider nursing as a civilian career option,” said Reed. “This grant can help us educate our military and veteran communities on the value of this in-demand career. With military and veteran students being close to 35 percent of the student body, the potential for expanding the nursing workforce is there. This grant will allow us to provide the supportive student resources veterans need for successful degree completion.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022 the number of RNs in the U.S. will grow by more than 526,800 – a 19.4 percent increase from 2012.
Established in 1971, Excelsior has a long and successful history of providing education to servicemembers and veterans. The private, nonprofit, distance learning institution is annually ranked as a top “military-friendly” College by G.I. Jobs magazine, in part due to its acceptance of military training that has been approved for college credit by the American Council on Education, and extensive services offered through its Center for Military Education and Lt. Col. Bryant A. Murray Veterans Center. The Center, with a staff of 17, many with military experience, provides veteran students with individualized advising, online resources, career services and mentoring, among a host of other offerings.
In addition, Excelsior has been recognized with an Institutional Award by the Council of College and Military Educators’ (CCME). In 2011, CCME recognized Susan Dewan, Executive Director, Center for Military Education, with the William E. Kennedy Award for leadership in providing higher education programs to personnel at U.S. military installations. Excelsior President Ebersole is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who served in Vietnam and received the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award in 2010 for his leadership in contributing to the Army’s educational mission.