January 16, 2004

Loan gives nursing graduates teaching incentive

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Olivia Barnes, R.N., flushes a central line on a patient in the MICU. Photo by Dana Johnson

Loan gives nursing graduates teaching incentive

The School of Nursing has been awarded a $155,000 grant from The Division of Nursing of the Health Resources and Services Administrations (HRSA) to provide a loan forgiveness program to nursing students who will commit to teach nursing for four years after graduation.

The grant was created to try to combat the growing nationwide shortage of faculty available to teach the influx of nursing students who are responding to the nursing shortage. VUSN enrolled a record high number of nursing students this fall and was able to hire two new faculty members to accommodate the growth, but Linda Norman, D.S.N., senior associate dean for Academics, said a faculty shortage is still on the horizon.

“When you look at the number of our faculty who are 50 and over, then you know in the next 15 years we’re going to lose them,” said Norman. “Most of the people in our leadership and senior faculty positions are in this 50 and over age range, and we’re no different than any other school of nursing. We’ve got to be able to have people come behind us to be faculty and who have education as a focus area in their program of study,” Norman added.

The money from the grant will help VUSN set up a program to offer a maximum loan of $30,000 per academic year to currently enrolled second-year or Ph.D. nursing students who apply for the money to pay for tuition, books, and fees associated with their educational program and are willing to sign an agreement to commit to teaching for four years after they finish training, at the location of their choice and hiring.

In the future, VUSN hopes to be able to earn the grant in time to offer the loan program to new students as well. Students in the loan forgiveness program will be required to take two education courses preparing them to teach nursing in their specialty area.

Once students with this loan have worked as a faculty member for the four years required after graduation, 85 percent of the loan will be forgiven. The amount of money that is forgiven is earned each year that the student teaches as a nursing faculty member. It breaks down to 20 percent in each of the first three years, 25 percent in the fourth year. The remaining 15 percent can be paid back over a 10 year period.

The School of Nursing is one of 55 programs nationwide awarded a grant to offer the loan forgiveness program. Students who are awarded the loan can serve their four-year faculty requirement at any school of nursing in the country.