Rutgers receives nearly $1M to expand nursing school training

Dawn Furnas//February 8, 2023//

Rutgers receives nearly $1M to expand nursing school training

Dawn Furnas//February 8, 2023//

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To address a statewide nursing shortage, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded the Rutgers School of Nursing a $950,650 grant to expand training opportunities. 

The funds will be used for simulated clinical learning exercises, enabling the school to increase admissions by at least 25%, Rutgers said Feb. 7. 

In the announcement, Rutgers School of Nursing Dean Linda Flynn thanked U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, D-10th District, for securing the HRSA funding, adding “we cannot continue to overload hospitals and outpatient clinics with students, and this money will help reduce that burden.” 

Payne added, “While this investment will not abruptly end the nursing shortage, it represents an important and necessary step in addressing the health care crisis of RN and CRNA supply and demand.” 

The bottleneck 

At Rutgers, which houses the largest nursing school in New Jersey, registered nursing students need to complete a clinical residency in order to graduate. The problem, however, is the lack of clinical rotation slots to accommodate this requirement. 

By the numbers

The nursing staffing shortage was exacerbated by the pandemic, Rutgers said: 

  • Between 2020 and 2021, the vacancy rate for registered nurses increased from 8.2% to 13.4%, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. 
  • There are nearly 15,000 registered nurse openings in New Jersey alone, according to Indeed.com. 
  • In 2021, about 7,000 registered nurses retired from the state’s workforce, according to Rutgers. 
  • New Jersey’s schools of nursing graduate fewer than 5,000 new registered nurses a year, Rutgers also noted. 

In the current recruiting class of about 300 first-year students, more than 1,000 candidates weren’t admitted because of this training bottleneck, Flynn said. 

By using high-fidelity clinical simulation – mannequins and other technologies that simulate in-hospital patient care – more students will have access to more training opportunities. 

The HRSA grant will allow Rutgers to purchase enough simulators to admit between 75 and 90 additional registered nursing students annually, the school said. The grant will also help Rutgers train more certified registered nurse anesthetists. 

Flynn said simulators will replace about 30% of clinical rotation hours, with the remainder involving live-patient care. 

She said the new grant “is a start but it’s only a start” and that the school will continue to look for additional funding to grow the program.

The federal funding comes on the heels of a $2 million donation the school announced Feb. 1. The school said the anonymous donor, a Newark native, intended the gift to establish an endowed fund that will provide full-tuition scholarships for nursing undergraduates each year.