College of Nursing and Health Sciences receives $175,000 grant

A $175,000 grant has been given to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences to help educate nurses, nursing students, and expand the UVM Medical Center.


The grant came from the Keybank Foundation, a non profit organization founded in 1969 to provide grants to educate students for the workforce, according to the foundation’s website.


The grant will be used for four main purposes, project director Mary Val Palumbo said.


The first will be a marketing campaign to encourage nurses to continue their academic progression in school.


UVM shares a statewide goal of having all nurses receive a bachelor’s degree by 2022, Val Palumbo said.


An associate’s degree is the highest level of education 46 percent of registered nurses in Vermont receive, according to a 2014 Board of Nursing survey.


The “Future of Nursing” campaign by the American Institute of Nursing is the basis of this goal of higher education, Val Palumbo said.


The goal of the “Future of Nursing” campaign is to have 80 percent of nurses to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing by 2022, according to the campaign’s website.


This campaign initially attracted KeyBank to the project, KeyBank’s market president Don Baker said.


UVM also plans to encourage high schoolers to continue on to higher education, partially by having them visit the UVM Medical Center on campus to expose them to the nursing field.


“We love bringing students into the simulation center and giving them a chance for some career exploration,” Val Palumbo said. “It’s important to focus on the high school level because the nursing program is the most competitive program at UVM.”


The second intention for the grant money is to supply the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden County with nurses from a variety of backgrounds, in order to better communicate with diverse populations.


“There’s lots of diversity here. The VNA already employs personal care attendants from Ghana, Sudan, Nepal, Somalia [and more],” Val Palumbo said. “The grant will help train nurses to be community health workers so they can communicate with the new American populations.”


The third goal with the grant is to help nurse practitioners open independent practices.


Nurse practitioners can open independent practices after two years in the workforce, Palumbo said.


First-year nursing student Amanda Britton connects personally to this initiative.


“A lot of nurse practitioners don’t open their own practices because it’s harder [than working at an established practice] so they definitely need help,” Britton said. “My plan is to be a nurse practitioner.”    


Lastly, some of the grant money will be used to expand the UVM Medical Center by adding 128 new single-occupancy bedrooms, according to a Jan.19 University communications press release.


“It’s a high priority to have better facilities for nurses and patients,” Baker said.


The original grant UVM looked into was from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is a private national foundation that gives grants to help further the education of medicine, but it required a matcher. KeyBank matched the RWJF’s $75,000, in addition to a $100,000 grant, for a grant total of $250,000.


One of KeyBank’s priorities is a thriving workforce said Brigitte Ritchie, director of community relations at KeyBank.

“It’s important that our nurses are educated and that we all pitch in as a community,” Ritchie said.