The University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing has received a three-year, $1 million federal grant to implement Heroes into Health Care: Veterans Entering the Nursing Workforce, a program designed to increase the number and percentage of ethnic minority and disadvantaged veterans who successfully complete a university-based nursing education and become employed as nurses.
Funding for the program comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.
Veterans face severe barriers to employment and career advancement upon return from military duty, Jean E. Swinney, RN, professor of nursing, said in a news release. Heroes into Health Care helps address this need by significantly increasing nursing education opportunities for persons from disadvantaged backgrounds and their employment in the national nursing workforce.
Swinney, who is the principal investigator and program director, said the program plays an important role in matching the strengths of the college of nursing to the needs and skills of veterans. She said in the release veterans have a demonstrated ability to learn and to function effectively as part of a team, and have an unparalleled commitment to service demonstrated through their combat experience.
The program will recruit and enroll a total of at least 70 minority and disadvantaged veterans, some of whom have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as U.S. Army combat medics and U.S. Navy hospital corpsmen, according to the release. Special attention will be given to veterans with combat medical experience who are able to successfully complete a university-based nursing education and become employed in the field of nursing.
Participants will be recruited from throughout the Springfield and western Massachusetts region as well as from neighboring metropolitan areas including New York and Boston, and on a national basis through the programs distance learning component.
Three potential courses will be offered through the program. These include a traditional four-year course of study at UMass Amherst for those who qualify, an accelerated 2+2 program combining two years of community college with two years at UMass Amherst and a distance-based learning program, which involves an annual summer intern program at UMass Amherst for selected students.
Among the programs benefits is that the school will provide a student financial support program with an average of five scholarships per year at $10,000, as well as monthly stipends for an average of 12 returning veteran nursing students.