January 2021 Update:
NEPA HEALTH CARE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES ROLLOUT OF CAREERS IN CARE INITIATIVE
Focuses on developing the regional pipeline of the healthcare workforce in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties
SCRANTON – During a time where the strains on the healthcare workforce in Northeastern Pennsylvania have been significant, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation announces its timely rollout of the Careers in Care program.
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation’s Careers in Care initiative—which focuses on developing the regional pipeline of the healthcare workforce and the growth and development of the nursing workforce in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties—will provide a combination of grant funding and scholarship support to help move the needle on these critical areas. Careers in Care is a $1.5 million commitment over a three-year period (2020-2023).
“The Foundation’s Board understands the strains that the regional healthcare workforce is facing and, through the Careers in Care initiative, strives to make an impact to address these critical issues,” said James Clemente, NEPA Health Care Foundation Board Chair. “Over the past year, we have seen just how timely this really is.”
Through Careers in Care, the NEPA Health Care Foundation will provide grant support to a variety of organizations. These include Lackawanna College, for its three-year plan to enhance the pipeline of local healthcare professionals and increase the number trained and retained in the region; United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA for its Upward Economic Mobility Program, partnering with Johnson College to offer a workforce development program for unemployed and underemployed individuals interested in obtaining technical certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Medical Assistant—two high-demand health careers; and Johnson College, to establish a mobile training laboratory providing hands-on experience to teach students what it is like to work in the healthcare field. Additionally, the Foundation will fund the Greater Hazleton Partners in Education’s Career Pathways to Health Care Program, designed to promote learning about health science and medical professions for middle school students, where discussions will be led by health care professionals from the Lehigh Valley Health Network. The Careers in Care initiative will also provide funding to support the Children’s Service Center for their scholarship program addressing the lack of racially diverse behavioral health professionals; Northern Tier Industry & Education Consortium (NTIEC) to increase healthcare career awareness and work-based learning placements for regional high school students; and Saint Joseph’s Center for direct support professional wage increases.
In addition to grant funding, the NEPA Health Care Foundation is establishing a $700,000 nursing scholarship program through the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which is targeted to support the growth and development of the nursing workforce in NEPA. The Careers in Care Nursing Scholarship Program will begin accepting applications in early March 2021 and will be open to students with demonstrated financial need who plan to pursue or who are pursuing nursing and who will practice in Northeastern Pennsylvania. An announcement in early March will provide detailed instructions on how students can apply through the Scranton Area Community Foundation’s online portal.
“These scholarships will provide the much needed financial support to students who may otherwise not have been able to further their education,” stated Director of Nursing and Associate Professor of Practice at Marywood University, Dr. Theresa Tulaney, PhD, MS, RN, GCNS. “In addition, it will allow students to focus on their education instead of having to work many hours to alleviate difficult financial situations,” she added.
The rollout of the Careers in Care initiative comes after the completion of a regional listening tour which the Foundation conducted from May through September of 2019. The NEPA Health Care Foundation conducted 30 site visits across the region to determine the health workforce challenges from the perspective of multiple healthcare providers, colleges, universities, vocational schools, agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, and how the Foundation could best make an impact.
“It was clear from discussions during our listening tour that there is a great demand for nurses at all levels. Supply is just not able to meet demand,” said Laura Ducceschi, President and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. She continued, “It was also clear that the development of the regional health workforce pipeline needs to continue to start earlier with students.” The Scranton Area Community Foundation administers the NEPA Health Care Foundation.
Additional details about the Careers in Care Nursing Scholarship Program will be released in early March 2021.
In addition to the Careers in Care initiative, the NEPA Health Care Foundation is also in the seventh year of a $3.2 million commitment to the Geisinger Commonwealth Medical School (GCSOM) for scholarship support for incoming first year medical students from Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties. The NEPA Health Care Foundation Scholars program covers full tuition for these scholars, who indicate a commitment to practice medicine in Northeastern PA.
A Three-Year Strategy to AddressHealthcare Workforce Needs in Northeastern Pennsylvania
2020 – 2023
Careers in Care is a $1.5 million, three-year strategic initiative aimed at supporting and expanding the health care workforce in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming Counties.
Why Careers in Care?
In 2018, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Health Care Foundation, in partnership with the Scranton Area Community Foundation, held a community forum to gather information on areas of need in the healthcare sector. From the discussions, it became clear that the healthcare workforce was a priority area.
A year-long regional listening tour was conducted in 2019 to explore the region’s healthcare workforce challenges in-depth and to understand the value of making a funding stream for healthcare workforce issues a priority.
After nearly 30 visits conducted across the region, it was evident that there is a great demand for nurses at all levels, and that each level has its own particular set of challenges and opportunities including staffing shortages and high turnover rate problems which can directly affect patient care.
In addition to opportunities to support the nursing profession, conversations indicated how healthcare workforce pipeline programs can lead to increased enrollment and success in healthcare education institutions as well as increase the pool of candidates for employment in the regional healthcare sector. The NEPA Health Care Foundation is interested in exploring partnerships and strategies that would help to increase the healthcare workforce capacity at various educational levels.
How will it work?
The NEPA Health Care Foundation plans to commit a total of $1.5 million to Careers in Care over a three year period (2020-2023). This is separate from and in addition to the previously committed $1.2 million to the NEPA Health Care Foundation Scholars program, which supports the physician workforce through Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM).
This $500,000 per year commitment will be distributed to several areas including addressing the healthcare workforce pipeline and supporting the nursing profession.
What will be funded?
Careers in Care has established a Grants Program that aims to address the healthcare workforce pipeline as well as provide support for the nursing profession. The NEPA Health Care Foundation invites the public to submit Letters of Intent (LOIs) for programs and initiatives in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties that address appropriate areas. 501c3 organizations and entities that meet the desired funding criteria will be eligible.
Grants to Support the Healthcare Workforce Pipeline
The regional pipeline of potential healthcare employees is critical for the healthcare workforce. Multiple providers indicated a key reason for a healthcare workforce shortage in the region is because awareness of these opportunities is not reaching students early enough, and in particular, they are not reaching students who are from low-to-middle income backgrounds whose guardians are not aware of these opportunities; students from diverse backgrounds; and students from more rural areas.
Educational institutions and employers indicated that barriers exist leading to inadequate enrollment in health professions programs and subsequent staffing shortages. They also indicate the need to start early in forming a pipeline with local students, particularly in the early part of middle school. Critical skills that were indicated by colleges and universities as significant barriers to entry, as well as challenges upon enrollment, include STEM skills, Math skills, Communication skills, ESL, and Resiliency skills. Potential partners can include but are not limited to, colleges, universities, medical schools, K-12 schools, libraries, professional organizations, health care providers, Career Technology Centers and school-to-work organizations that provide students with exposure to career opportunities.
Grants to Support the Nursing Profession
Programs that both support the need of nurses in our communities and which are aimed at addressing the significant nursing shortage in NEPA are important for quality delivery of care. Through Careers in Care, eligible initiatives can support and focus on nurses as employees, as well as nursing students.
Proposals can include support for the following, but are not limited to the list below:
- Innovative strategies and solutions for addressing the nursing shortage in NEPA
- Career Path Programs to move nurses up through various credential levels; Bridge building from PCT-CNA-LPN-RN-BSN
- Programs to help mitigate burnout and injuries in the workplace
- Programs focusing on growth, success, resilience and retention of nurses
- Initiatives to provide incentives and better work environments
- Training equipment for nursing education with identified outcomes for care delivery improvement
- Incentives for Nurse Educators
- Nursing programs for underserved and diverse students
- Leadership development programs for nurses at all levels
- Interdisciplinary Care Team Training
- Stop Gap funding for building sustainable increased compensation programs
- Measures to address nursing student dropout rates
- Programs and initiatives that address the employee satisfaction levels for nurses
- Collaboratives and initiatives that address clinical placements including Education/Opportunity Disparities
- Nursing Student Hardship Fund/stipend funds for health-related curriculums
- Step-up opportunities/ credit accumulation programs for high school students
Potential partners/ applicants can include but are not limited to vocational schools, colleges, universities, K-12 schools, health care providers, and nonprofit organizations.
As the NEPA Health Care Foundation celebrates its tenth anniversary of providing funding for healthcare needs in Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Wyoming County, they have prioritized Careers in Care in order to make a focused impact on the Healthcare Workforce in NEPA over the next three years. The Foundation is hopeful that Careers in Care will positively impact current and future care delivery in NEPA.