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Nursing Collaborative Tackles Impending Nursing Shortages, Enhances Workforce Development for Northeast Ohio

UH, CSU, and Tri-C collaboration creates economic incentives and support for aspiring RNs to earn nursing degrees and remain in Northeast Ohio


A collaboration between University Hospitals (UH), Cleveland State University (CSU), and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) will establish a comprehensive workforce development pathway to increase the numbers of registered nurses, and increase the number who earn a baccalaureate degree, in nursing (BSN). The goal of the collaboration is to proactively address the impending shortage of nurses in Northeast Ohio.

The unique collaboration between a health system, a university and a community college will better meet the needs of students, employers and the community, and will serve as a model for other communities around the United States who face similar challenges.

Specifically, the program will tackle the challenges that nursing students face at every stage of their education and careers by:

  • Instituting a new, primarily evening and weekend, cohort of 64 students in CSU’s BSN program to add to the 160 students currently admitted each year. In addition to its established tuition reimbursement program, UH will support these students in the following ways:
    • Creation of a UH Nursing Scholars program offering 20 students a $12,000 tuition support contract for their junior and senior years.  
    • Incentivizing qualified and experienced UH RNs to serve as CSU clinical instructors.
    • Extending students’ opportunities to work as part-time nursing assistants while attending school.
  • Offering tuition support to enhance the participation by Tri-C graduates in the CSU RN to BSN Program:
    • UH will award 20 UH Nursing Scholars a $6,000 tuition support contract for their second year at Tri-C and their last year in the CSU RN to BSN program, for a total of $12,000.
    • Tri-C will offer a $3,000 scholarship to their students enrolled in the CSU RN to BSN Program.
  • Supporting nursing students at Tri-C and CSU to successfully complete their respective nursing programs through financial assistance, work opportunity and services, such as coaching, counseling, and support services, through identified workforce agencies.
  • Extending students opportunities to work as part-time nursing assistants at UH while attending school and increasing the availability of the required clinical placements.

“UH is significantly invested in this collaboration because it addresses so many of the issues that prevent entry into nursing school, achievement of a baccalaureate in nursing, and the opportunity to thrive as a professional nurse,” said Jean Blake, RN, BSN, MJ, Chief Nursing Officer for UH.

By 2020, the Center for Health Affairs Northeast Ohio Nursing Initiative’s Nursing Forecaster estimates that Northeast Ohio will need at least another 3,500 nurses to care for the rapidly aging local population. Nationally, those estimates rise to nearly one million additional nurses needed to adequately care for the total number of patients.

Additionally, to handle the increasingly complex healthcare needs of a growing population of older patients, a significant percentage of these nurses will require the additional education and experience gained from a four-year degree, the BSN. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has issued a recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a baccalaureate degree by 2020.  Northeast Ohio’s percentage is approaching 40 percent, thus this bold collaboration will provide a strong boost toward the national goal.   

“This collaborative will make it possible for more people to pursue multiple pathways toward a BSN degree, minimize current barriers for student success and enhance timely graduation of professional registered nurses,” said Timothy Gaspar, PhD, RN, Dean of Nursing at CSU. “Even better, this program will entice promising young people to stay in the Cleveland area and excel at providing nursing care for the people of our region. It will address the registered nurse shortage, as well as enhance the health care of the workforce in our region.”

This nursing collaborative closely aligns with some of the major principles that the American Nurses Association has identified as crucial to the transformation of the health system, particularly those focused on ensuring a sufficient supply of skilled workforce that is dedicated to providing high quality health care services.

“Our hope is that this effort will support the residents of Ohio and empower the next generation of promising caregivers to pursue a lifelong career in nursing. It can also serve as a successful example of how other communities can address similar challenges,” said Vivian Yates, PhD, RN, Dean of Nursing at Tri-C.

Through the collaboration, the institutions hope to see a 40 percent increase in the number of CSU BSN graduates, from 160 currently to 224, beginning in 2020 when the new cohort graduates, and a 10 percent increase in the completion rate of Tri-C students within two years, which will increase RN graduates from these efforts; at least 50 RNs annually to the workforce from the CSU RN Refresher Program, and an ever increasing percentage of RNs in Northeast Ohio who hold a BSN degree.