For the ninth year in our history of securing Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) grants from the Federal Health Resources & Services Administration, the award just announced by the St. Catherine University Nursing Department sets a new record: $337,192. NFLP project director and MSN: Nurse Educator program director Emily W. Nowak PhD, RN, CNE says, “This is by far our largest grant amount yet, which is very exciting.”
The goal of the NFLP is to address the current nursing education workforce shortage by increasing the number of qualified nursing faculty. No small concern, as the current nursing faculty vacancies reported nationwide by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing stands at 8%, a number that does not take into account more than 30% of faculty retirements anticipated by 2025.
Zoom in to the Midwest, and faculty shortage increases to around 10%. Yet, “St. Kate’s remains one of the only departments of nursing in the state without any faculty vacancies,” Nowak stated in her grant proposal. In 2017, an informational survey by the Minnesota Association for Colleges of Nursing reported that in Minnesota alone, 57 vacancies due to retirements were expected by 2022.
By offering financial support to recruit and retain students who intend to become academic nursing faculty, St. Kate’s can help to meet the growing need for qualified nursing faculty nationwide.
St. Kate’s social justice values help position the University to meet another NFLP goal: growing a diverse nursing faculty and workforce. Nowak sees the diversity among nursing faculty as key to recruiting an even more diverse pool of nursing students. "To support the diverse nursing student body, we must also address the lack of diversity within the nursing faculty,” Nowak explains. Currently, St. Kate’s attracts the most diverse student body of any private college in Minnesota based on race and income. As Nowak describes in the grant proposal, “Particular efforts are aimed at recruiting a diverse student body that aligns with the immediate surrounding communities.”
“St. Kate’s focuses on developing an environment rich in diversity and inclusivity — one that fosters building a bigger pool of nursing faculty from diverse backgrounds to serve as role models for nursing students of color and that facilitates the movement of underrepresented students into master’s and clinical doctorate degrees. The NFLP provides critical support to these students to enter the nursing faculty workforce and serve future students of color — with ripple effects for all students, who benefit from the richness of perspectives that come with greater faculty diversity,” said Nowak.
Available for qualifying students in the St. Kate’s Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator or Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, awards of up to $35,000 per year can cover up to a full year of tuition, required fees, and a book allowance.
If, upon graduating, the grantee serves in a full-time position as a faculty member at an accredited nursing school for the requisite period of time, up to 85% of the principal and interest of the NFLP loan will be forgiven.