MBSON Receives Grant to Strengthen Nursing Faculty Pipeline

February 1, 2022 at 12:25 pm

The University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce its Mary Black School of Nursing (MBSON) has received a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation that will increase the number of nursing faculty in the Palmetto State. The “Developing Nurse Faculty to Strengthen the Nursing Pipeline in South Carolina” grant will provide full-ride scholarships to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students during the next four years.

The amount of the grant is undisclosed, but the funding is expected to bolster efforts to help the state avoid a shortage of qualified nurses.

“Elevating the health and well-being of the Upstate is central to our vision as a university,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie Harris. “Before we can increase the number of nursing graduates, we must first solve the shortage of nursing faculty in our state. We are grateful to the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation for their generosity. Together we will build a stronger, healthier community.”

As of January 30, there were 8,903 job openings for registered nurses in South Carolina, including 2,471 openings in the 10-county region of the Upstate, according to SC Works. Those numbers include 1,042 openings for registered nurses in Greenville County and 588 in Spartanburg County. 

At the same time, South Carolina faces the fourth-most-severe shortage of nursing faculty in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“The faculty shortage is real and it continues to threaten our ability to graduate more nurses who are ready to enter the workforce and provide care,” said MBSON Dean and project director Shirleatha Lee, Ph.D. “More than 90% of our graduates remain in South Carolina, so the ability to educate more nursing students will greatly help our community.”

“We hope to develop more nurse faculty who can teach in universities and colleges across the state,” Lee added. “We expect that they will one day pursue a doctoral degree so they can continue to expand their scope as educators.”

Lee said funding will support the development of a graduate course focused on nursing in rural communities. This course will prepare future nurse faculty to better understand and convey to students the specialized care issues and needs of rural and underserved populations.

The partnership comes a little more than a year after MBSON received a four-year, $1.95 million grant from HRSA to support its Holistic Opportunities and Partnerships that Empower (HOPE) Nursing Success Project. That grant was followed by nearly $76,000 from HRSA for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), a loan fund for graduate nursing students enrolled in the MSN Education program that also targets decreasing the nurse faculty shortage.

The Mary Black School of Nursing is one of the most esteemed schools of its kind in the southeast region of the United States. Established in 1967, MBSON offers the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, with a traditional prelicensure and RN-BSN track; and the Master of Science in Nursing program, which includes the Clinical Nurse Leader, Education, and Leadership tracks.

Benita Hopkins, associate vice chancellor for development and alumni relations at USC Upstate, said the grant is crucial to supporting the institution’s vision of connecting students with career-relevant and accessible educational opportunities that will enhance and address the critical workforce needs of the region.

“We are grateful to have the support of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation,” Hopkins said. “As we aim to break barriers to improve our communities’ health, wellness and well-being, we rely on partners with a shared vision to play a critical role in optimizing our efforts. Through scholarships, we now open the door to building a much-needed pipeline to strengthen the nursing faculty needs of South Carolina.”

The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is and independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

For more information about MBSON’s MSN program, please visit: www.uscupstate.edu/msn.