According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 12% over a 10-year span that began in 2008 and ends in 2028. The Bureau noted that this predicted growth is much faster than the average for all occupations. Regionally, in western Pennsylvania, various local health networks have experienced unprecedented growth, and nationally, the current nursing population is part of an aging demographic with a significant percentage entering into retirement.
These statistics point to an anticipated nursing shortage that will not only affect the national nursing workforce but will be felt here at home in western Pennsylvania. Recognizing opportunity within a forecast of challenges, two pillars of our local community recently forged a partnership in response to the impending staffing shortage.
In June of this year, Butler County Community College (BC3) and Concordia Lutheran Ministries announced a partnership in which Concordia could provide up to $10 million to BC3 and its students over the course of the next decade. The foundation of the partnership rests on Concordia and BC3’s shared interest to positively impact the communities in which we collectively serve.
Stacy Mathers, Concordia’s Corporate Compliance Officer and an alumna of BC3’s Nursing Program, said that she is concerned about the shortage but is excited for the beneficial impact of the partnership.
“The health care industry needs nurses to support our communities. With a projected growth within our profession and an understanding that we are experiencing a nursing shortage, Concordia wanted to support our community and make an investment in the future of those who want to make a difference.”
A rare and unique opportunity that has arose from this partnership is Concordia’s BC3 Nursing Tuition Assistance Program. The program provides current BC3 nursing students and individuals accepted into the college’s nursing program the possibility of receiving a debt-free education. The students entering into the Tuition Assistance Program will have their full cost of tuition covered by Concordia and will agree to a service commitment that will provide them with a rewarding career upon graduation.
Nursing students who take advantage of Concordia’s Tuition Assistance Program do not have to work at the organization while in school; however, if they choose to, Concordia’s clinical professionals are looking forward to mentoring, tutoring and providing professional support to encourage academic achievements. Concordia has a reputation for fostering the talent of their team members and have assisted many on journeyed career paths.
“Concordia has helped me to advance in my profession by surrounding me with inspiring mentors and leaders who believed in me. Concordia invests in the employees that work here and provides leadership training and opportunities that allows employees to grow within the organization,” Stacy said.
She continued, “Concordia is here to support individuals in reaching their goals. For someone to have this opportunity where the financial barrier can be removed and allow them to achieve their dream is amazing.”
The nursing careers throughout the organization’s vast footprint (Concordia has 16 facility-based locations and serves 13 western Pennsylvania counties through home and community services) include opportunities in personal care, assisted living, skilled nursing, home health, private duty home care, memory care, palliative care, wound care, mom/baby, clinical education, and many other specialty and certification nursing positions.
In addition to offering interested individuals a debt-free education, the partnership will also provide the community with more qualified nurses by adding seats to the existing BC3 registered nursing program and launching a LPN program as soon as fall 2021. This will allow more nurses to enter the workforce directly upon graduation, which will lessen the region’s nurse shortage and assist in elevating the quality of care provided to our community members.
Dr. Patricia Annear, Dean of BC3’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health, will be presenting at three Concordia locations in late July. Her presentation will provide an in-depth look at BC3’s nursing curriculum and will be followed by a Q&A session. Members of Concordia’s Human Resources team will also be on hand to field any questions about the opportunities this partnership will provide to our employees and community members interested in pursing a nursing education.
To learn more about how the Concordia and BC3 partnership can positively impact you and your community, visit the BC3 Nursing Tuition Assistance Program page of our website, or email BC3NursingProgram@concordialm.org to express your interest in learning more about our upcoming events with Dr. Annear.
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