$95,000 grant for Pierce

Sena Schmidt

It is a trying time right now for America’s hospitals and in the eyes of many, they are falling apart.

According to a CBS news report in January of 2003, American hospitals are in a serious crisis due to the severe and dangerous shortage of nurses, a shortage that can best be summed up by the fact that there are now over 120,000 open positions for registered nurses nationwide.

Emergency rooms are shutting down, surgeries are delayed and, most disturbing of all, patients are sometimes not getting the critical care they desperately need, according to CBS reporter Lesley Stahl.

In lieu of this crisis, college campuses are doing whatever they can to recruit new nursing students into their programs, a feat that Pierce College itself has taken on full force after being awarded a $95,000 grant by the West Hills hospital and Medical Center designed to assist nursing students successfully entering into the profession upon graduation.

Being one of the thousands of hospitals in this country affected by the nurse shortage, West Hills hospital granted this generous allowance to be divided between only seven of Pierce’s lucky nursing students which will help pay for their tuition, uniforms, medical supplies, textbooks and living expenses during their second year in the program. By accepting this offering, the seven students also enter into a $60,000 salary working contract for one year with West Hills hospital after they complete their two years in Pierce’s nursing program and receive their associate’s degree and Registered Nurse license.

According to Dennis Washburn, Director for the Foundation for Pierce College, every hospital is understaffed approximately 10 to 30 nurses.

“There are nursing shortages in every hospital in California, if not the country,” Washburn said. “The $95,000 is a program to underwrite second year nursing students here at Pierce College.”

Out of the 60 to 80 applicants for this grant, a selection process narrowed down the seven students and honored them with the annual $12,000 each. These students were chosen based on their “good standing” reputation in the college, if they had a B average grade or better and fulfilled all of their nursing prerequisites.

“[The money] is to help the students who are doing good work and have passed their nursing completion exam,” said Washburn. “What this will do is make the program more attractive and more visible so that other organizations can help us expand the offerings here at Pierce College.”

Washburn anticipates to also solve the problem of the current 300 students awaiting their acceptance into Pierce’s impacted nursing program and hopes the money will solve the problem of finding ways to help students that are here and having the facilities to teach them, which is another enormous dilemma on the college’s campus.

Although there seems to be no end in sight for this catastrophic deficiency, this could be a positive start.

“Pierce College and our board of directors are excited and thrilled to have partners like West Hills hospital, “said Washburn thankfully. “And we are looking forward to doing significant amount of work in helping decrease the nursing shortage and aid in helping our nursing students here at Pierce College.”


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