N.H. nurse training program exceeds expectations

Results of a $3 million nurse-training program has exceeded all original expectations and created new partnerships to upgrade the skills of New Hampshire’s nurses, according to the Workforce Opportunity Council.

The Nursing Workforce Partnership Project is completing its three-year program of scholarships and establishment of ongoing training programs among hospitals and health-care associations, said Dick Anagnost, chair of the council, who added that more than 800 people received financial assistance to attend nursing school and over 1,400 health-care workers received training to upgrade their skills in new areas.

Students receiving financial aid were required to commit to working in a New Hampshire facility for a year following graduation or receipt of their license. In addition, all master’s degree recipients were required to commit to teaching two classes in a New Hampshire educational institution over the year following their graduation.

A $3 million grant used to fund the program also helped sponsor new collaborations among health-care facilities, resulting in new and sustainable programs to “increase the talents of incumbent health care workers,” said Anagnost.

At the start of the project in October 2002, Anagnost said, an estimated 230 students were expected to receive forgivable loans. But in the end, 831 students received assistance, he said, because scholarship amount requests were lower than expected.

According to Anagnost:

• Seventeen percent of the students receiving assistance were pursuing four-year registered nurse degrees.

• Seventy percent were pursuing two-year RN degrees.

• Seven percent were obtaining a licensed practical nurse degree.

• Six percent were in a master’s program.

In addition, the council estimated that 430 incumbent workers would receive training. But because of new collaborations among health-care facilities, 1,439 workers actually were trained.

For instance, Catholic Medical Center created an RN Re-entry Program, and the 186-hour course has brought back former health-care workers into the industry as licensed nurses. The original class, launched in July 2003, provided 10 participants with new skills and licenses. The program has continued with two additional classes.

Also, the New Hampshire Long Term Care Association began a Wound Care training program for home health care registered nurses.

And collaboration between the University of New Hampshire and Catholic Charities provided 100 RNs with comprehensive geriatric nursing training. Designed and presented by five UNH nursing professors, the program resulted in a plan to establish a chapter of the National Geriatric Nursing Association.

Anagnost said “preceptor” training provided by the grant helped five rural hospitals in the North Country work together on a critical care training program that provides national certification to its course graduates. He also said Lakes Region General Hospital continues its “train the trainers” program, with LRGHealthcare working with Franklin General Hospital in an emergency room/critical care nursing program.

“We are very proud of the success of the Nursing Workforce Partnership Program, because it helps meet the tremendous challenges being placed upon health care in New Hampshire,” said Anagnost. “The project has truly been an example of a public-private partnership, with health-care facilities, health-care workers and recipients of health care in New Hampshire all profiting from the effort.”

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