$1 Million Grant to UB Nursing School Funds New Nursing Programs to Meet Chronic Nurse Shortages, Need for Nursing Faculty

By Lois Baker

Release Date: September 12, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Yvonne Scherer, Ed.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo, has received a $1 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to support new academic programs aimed at alleviating the chronic shortage of skilled nurses and nursing faculty.

The purpose of the grant is two-fold: to enhance and expand the school's offerings in adult-care nursing and to increase the number of nursing educators.

To meet those goals, UB has instituted an Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist master's degree, with tracks in three specialty areas: acute/critical care, medical-surgical care and geriatrics, and a 15-credit Advanced Certificate in Nursing Education available to nurses who hold at least a master's degree.

Scherer, who will direct both programs, said of the new initiatives: "There is a great need for clinical nurse specialists, and the program will be a nice addition to our Adult Health Nurse Practitioner Program. The roles of the nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist compliment one another in the provision of quality patient care. One of the roles of clinical nurse specialist is to function as an educator, so the certificate program dovetails nicely with the clinical nurse specialist program."

Both programs aim to increase the number of nurses in the workforce from minority or disadvantaged populations and to bring more nurses to underserved areas.

The master's program for clinical nurse specialists, which began this fall semester, consists of 42-to-47 academic credits and 500 hours of clinical training. Both local hospital administrators and nurses asked for such a program, Scherer said.

"Interest waned in this specialty about eight years ago, when all of the emphasis was on training nurse practitioners," she said. "Nurse practitioners work mostly in primary-care areas, while clinical nurse specialists work primarily in hospitals and are involved with standards of patient care and staff development. For example, a clinical nurse specialist in diabetes care would serve as a consultant to the regular hospital staff nurses or provide care directly to hospitalized diabetes patients with complications."

Scherer said the certificate program responds to a major crisis facing nursing education.

"Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country have contributed to the overall decline in new enrollments at a time when the need for nurses continues to grow, and the situation is only going to get worse," she said. "By 2006, at least a third of the current nursing faculty will have retired. The purpose of this advanced certificate program is to prepare nurses as educators, offering career advancement options, including a move into academia."

Two courses in the 15-credit certificate curriculum will be taught through the UB Graduate School of Education. The course work can be completed in two semesters. Persons with a master's degree in nursing, or current students in a UB nursing master's or doctoral program are eligible to enroll.

Persons interested in either program may contact the nursing school by email at nurse-studentaffairs@buffalo.edu or by calling 716-829-2537.