SHU's Department of Nursing Receives $240,000 CHEFA Grant

News Story:

Only educational institution in the state to receive CHEFA grant; Funding to encourage nursing education; Address shortage issue

Sacred Heart University's nursing program received a substantial grant that will help expand the number of nurses prepared to teach.  An insufficient number of nursing faculty is part of the explanation for the increasing shortage of registered nurses in Connecticut and the nation.

The Connecticut Healthcare and Education Facilities Authority (CHEFA) awarded the University a $240,000 grant that will allow for creation of a new Nursing Education Certificate program as well as support current faculty pursuing doctoral degrees.

SHU was the only educational institution in the state to receive the CHEFA grant.

"It's an honor for us to receive this grant. The funds will help us better serve community needs through increasing the number of nurses with formal education in teaching as well as supporting current faculty to continue to pursue their doctoral degrees," said Dr. Patricia Walker, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.

"The whole purpose of the grant is to try and impact the number of nurses available by increasing the nurse faculty we have," said Dori Sullivan, associate professor and chair of Sacred Heart University’s Department of Nursing.

Sullivan said there is tremendous interest in the field of nursing that must not be discouraged because the existing nursing shortage could affect the quality of care in the future, especially with the aging Baby Boomer generation. But a shortage in qualified nursing educators is compounding the problem, she said.

In 2006, nursing education programs throughout the country turned away more than 40,000 qualified applicants, including more than 1,000 in Connecticut because of a lack of qualified instructors. Nurse faculty in registered nurse education programs must possess at least a master’s degree with a doctoral degree preferred by four-year college programs.

The CHEFA grant will support current faculty members' pursuit of doctoral degrees, but is not limited to that purpose, Sullivan said.

The funding, awarded in the amount of $120,000 a year for 2006-2008, helped create the Nursing Education Certificate program.  The 10-credit certificate program is comprised of three courses and may be completed as continuing education or incorporated into a registered nurse student’s plan of study to obtain a master’s or bachelor’s degree.

Current as well as prospective students will also benefit from the CHEFA grant, according to Sullivan. "We will be supplying scholarship support to a select number of students who chose the Nursing Education Certificate program. We will seek minorities and under-represented groups of people—men, African American women, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans," Sullivan said

The Sacred Heart University nursing program is working with several partner agencies including Yale-New Haven Hospital, St. Vincent's Medical Center, VNA South Central, and VNS of Bridgeport to recruit qualified applicants. The Nursing Education Certificate courses may be completed in nine months with the first of the three courses starting in September 2007.  For more information about the SHU nursing programs, including the Nursing Education Certificate, call 203-371-7715.