Partnership aims to give nursing shot in arm
Spalding, Norton team up to provide high-tech lab and tuition assistance
By Darla Carter
Recruiting more nursing students and training them on the latest equipment are the goals of a partnership announced yesterday between Spalding University and Norton Healthcare.
The partnership is backed by a $190,000 grant from Norton that will pay for three initiatives over four years:
Providing tuition aid to students designated as ''Norton fellows.''
Hiring a liaison to advise nursing students and make sure their training is up to date.
Creating an electronically enhanced classroom and state-of-the-art laboratory with cardiac monitors and other equipment.
The new equipment will allow the university ''to keep current with what is actually being used on the floors and in the wards at the hospitals,'' said Spalding President Thomas R. Oates.
Nursing has long been a cornerstone of the school.
Each year 10 nursing students will receive $6,000 in tuition aid and other perks, such as part-time employment at Norton, as part of the Norton Fellows program. Thirty-two students already receive similar assistance through the 2year-old Norton Scholars program, which includes about 400 students at several schools.
''For each year they get the assistance, they make a commitment to work for Norton Healthcare for one year,'' said Lisa Brosky, a Norton spokeswoman. ''. . . If they take four years of scholarship money, we'll have them for four years -- and of course, we're hoping that we can wow them so they'll stay.''
Like the rest of the health-care system, Norton is grappling with the ''huge bubble of baby boomers out there getting older . . . it's not going to be long till we're all needing more health care, and the health-care work force is getting older,'' said Stephen A. Williams, Norton's president.
Meanwhile, fewer people are going into the field. Because of that, the industry has to find new ways to encourage more young people to enter the field as well as make it a good option for people looking for a second career, Williams said.
Also, patients tend to be sicker and need more care, said Teresa Mingea, Norton's chief nursing officer. So schools need to make new nurses feel comfortable and confident in their jobs, she said.
The liaison began working Aug. 15. Part of her job is being a recruiter and mentor, as well as helping to ensure that students get the kind of experience the industry demands.
Nancy Cahill, a Spalding nursing student and Norton employee, said it's hard to pay for nursing school, so the new partnership will be a plus for students.
Cahill said it's also important for students to know how to use the latest equipment because otherwise it will take them several months to become effective in the working world.
The grant will ultimately lead to better health care in the Louisville area, Oates said.