Program aims to address statewide nursing shortage

A photo of a nurse.
A photo of a nurse.(MGN)
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 11:08 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 11:38 AM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - A program for college students aims to address a statewide nursing shortage.

Gov. Ned Lamont participated in a news conference at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven on Wednesday morning to announce the program’s launch at Connecticut’s colleges and universities.

“We have a significant nursing shortage in Connecticut, and yet our colleges and universities do not currently have capacity to increase the number of qualified nursing students they serve,” Lamont said. “By making this investment, we are taking a critical step toward expanding the number of nursing seats at our public and private institutions of higher education. We also know that the need for mental health services has only increased during the pandemic. This collaborative approach will help promote a highly educated behavioral health workforce.”

The program aims to address statewide shortages in nursing and behavioral health providers.

Lamont said the program is being supported by $35 million in state funding that was included in the recently enacted state budget.

A collaborative partnership between Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, the Office of Workforce Strategy, multiple state agencies, the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, and the Connecticut Hospital Association, the program seeks to address the state’s workforce shortage in these critical areas through three strategic pillars:

  • Tuition assistance to incentivize low-income and minority students to enter accelerated and cost-effective nursing and social work programs.
  • Recruitment and retention of faculty to rapidly expand seat capacity and train the next generation of nursing and behavioral health workers.
  • Innovative programs to promote partnerships between employers and institutes of higher education to build career pathways.

“This significant investment in training nurses and behavioral health providers is exactly the kind of program Congress had in mind when we passed the American Rescue Plan Act to help our nation rebuild from the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. “The need for mental health services skyrocketed during the pandemic and an already alarming shortage of nurses is now at an all-time high, leaving our health care systems understaffed at a critical time. We applaud the State of Connecticut for using these federal dollars to make an important investment in the workforce and the health of our communities.”

The initiative is estimated to provide tuition support to 1,200 students entering nursing and social work programs, with a focus on associate degree nursing programs, accelerated bachelor in nursing programs, and master of social work programs. In addition, it is expected to expand educational seat capacity to serve more than 1,000 new students.

Lamont was joined by Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Terrence Cheng, Connecticut chief workforce officer Kelli Vallieres, nursing and social work students, and other state and local officials.