The goal is to improve students’ pipeline to employment while helping to diversify the hospital’s nursing workforce.
Massachusetts General Hospital and the School of Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions are adding more bricks to the foundation of their workforce pipeline. This semester, three $10,000 scholarships will be awarded to high-performing Bachelor of Science in Nursing students who are beginning their final semester.
“It's a win-win for Mass General and for the IHP,” said Dr. Ken White, Dean of the School of Nursing. “These students will have a guaranteed job when they graduate. So, it helps the student, it helps the school, and it helps the nursing profession which is in the midst of a drastic nursing shortage.”
Priority will be given to underrepresented minorities. After receiving their scholarships during the 2023 spring semester, the students will complete their final immersion experience at Mass General Hospital, graduate in May and then will be expected to work at the hospital for two years following graduation. This is the first time Massachusetts General Hospital has tied a working commitment to its scholarships.
“We always prioritize IHP students for clinical placements,” said Dr. Debbie Burke, Chief Nurse and Senior VP for Patient Care at MGH. “Our IHP students are really important to us. We need a pipeline of clinical staff nurses and when they get out of school, we want them to come and work here.”
Prioritizing underrepresented communities will help the hospital with its goal of employing a more diverse workforce. Currently, just over 13% of nurses at MGH are considered diverse.
“In order for us to really make a meaningful impact on changing and improving healthcare access and equity for all, we need a workforce that looks like the populations we serve,” said White.
“We already know we have a smart and talented group of IHP students to begin with - that's a given,” said Burke. “The question then becomes, ‘How do we create a pipeline that helps us meet our goals too?’ We really work hard at trying to increase the diversity of our workforce and our leadership. This is a way to be deliberate and intentional. One day maybe we won't have to be so deliberate and specific.”
The three scholarship awardees will be selected this semester; the guarantee of a job at one of the world’s most respected hospitals is one significant payoff, the $10,000 in tuition savings is the other.
“Students come out of school with a significant burden of loans, and that's part of the attrition issue,” said White. “This is another important way to address attrition and support early career nurses.”
As proof of MGH’s commitment to hiring IHP students, Burke told the recent cohort of 55 BSN graduates to let her know if they didn’t already have a job. She will have the same message for this year’s graduates. As for the scholarship winners, Burke is looking forward to meeting them after they are announced, and she’s hopeful about the expectation of the two-year working agreement.
“Listen, MGH is not an easy work environment, it's really highly acute and busy,” Burke noted. “But with this plan for the students having their final semester with us, it won’t feel like a first date when they’re coming here to work after graduating. We need to ask: ‘What can we do during the school year that could make this a better experience for those students?’ Then it’s up to us to make it a good work environment so that they want to stay after the two years.”
While the scholarships represent a financial lifeline, they signify something bigger: an evolution of the collaboration between Mass General Hospital and the graduate school it founded 45 years ago.
“The nursing profession and the workforce demands are so different now,” observed White. “And the times are pushing both of us towards each other.”
Added Burke: “We have a really nice relationship and making sure that we're prioritizing these students is just another way for us to tighten that relationship.”
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