The Hearst Foundations have granted the Clemson University School of Nursing funding for scholarships to increase diversity in the nursing workforce.
The $100,000 gift will fund scholarships for students pursuing a baccalaureate degree in the traditional undergraduate program, the accelerated second-degree program, or the registered nurse to Bachelor of Science degree program, with transfer students included as potential recipients.
The students will be known as Hearst Scholars, said Paul “Dino” Dinovitz, The Hearst Foundations’ executive director. “The Hearst Foundations are delighted to partner with Clemson’s School of Nursing to help diversify the rural health care workforce. It’s crucial to address rural health care disparities by supporting diverse talent.”
This gift is the first foundation grant for diversity scholarships for the School of Nursing, and each selected student will receive $2,500 per semester, annually renewed based on academic performance, according to Clemson University Chief Academic Nursing Officer Kathleen Valentine, Ph.D.
“We are excited to partner with Hearst Foundations to remove barriers for our students and potential students to receive an education,” Valentine said. “It is vital that future nurses receive a top-notch education so they can be prepared to treat patients with acute or chronic illnesses and reduce health disparities.”
Clemson is one of 16 universities that has received recognition as a National Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. As part of this recognition, the School of Nursing has a priority to increase diversity in the nursing workforce to meet a need in the state, especially in more rural areas.
According to a 2021 report from the South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce, of the 5 million people in the state, 36.3% are Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic and Asian.
While the percentage of licensed practical nurses of Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic and Asian populations closely mirror the diversity of the state population at 36%, other nursing professions are not as representative of the population. Of the 41,572 registered nurses in South Carolina, 20% are Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic and Asian. Of the 6,667 advanced nurse practice registered nurses, 16% are of the above listed populations.
There is an urgent national and state need to diversify the rural health care workforce. The employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations which is project at a 5% growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
However, according to a U.S. Health and Human Services Administration report, South Carolina ranks fourth in the nation that is projected to have a shortage of registered nurses by 2030 of 10,400 nurses, despite the growth in the health care workforce.
To increase the diversity of nurses across the state, the South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce report suggests removing the cost and student debt barrier that prevents many underrepresented students from entering the profession. According to Clemson University Chief Inclusion Officer and Special Assistant to the President on Inclusive Excellence Lee Gill, scholarships from Hearst are one way that the School of Nursing can contribute to increasing this workforce.
“The nursing profession is challenged to recruit and retain a culturally diverse workforce that mirrors the nation’s change in demographics,” Gill said. “The Hearst Foundation scholarships provide an additional opportunity for our School of Nursing to attract more students of color and help build that diverse pipeline into the profession.”
The School of Nursing is part of the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS), which was established in July 2016. CBSHS is a 21st-century land-grant college that combines work in seven disciplines – communication; nursing; parks, recreation and tourism management; political science; psychology; public health sciences; and sociology, anthropology and criminal justice – to further its mission of “building people and communities” in South Carolina and beyond.
The Hearst Foundations identify and fund outstanding nonprofits to ensure that people of all backgrounds in the United States can build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. The Hearst Foundation, Inc. was founded by William Randolph Hearst in 1946. In 1949 Hearst established the California Charities Foundations, later renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Both foundations are guided by the same charitable mission, which reflects the philanthropic interests of their founder.
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