Beacon Health System and Ivy Tech Community College are partnering to combat the nursing shortage in northern Indiana.
Beacon Vice President of Nursing Sarah Paturalski said the country has been battling a shortage for the better part of a decade, and is set to hit a deficit of 1.2 million nurses this year.
“We need more than we have today, and we want to make it as easy as possible for people to enter the profession,” she said.
Starting this fall, nursing students at Ivy Tech can enroll in the Beacon Scholars program, which offers tuition assistance, living stipends and future employment at Beacon facilities.
Beacon will also invest in facility improvements at Ivy Tech and provide two nurses to join the faculty in hybrid roles.
“Part of the trouble with the nursing shortage is a shortage of faculty,” Paturalski said. “There’s a certain number of students per faculty member in a nursing program, and Ivy Tech needed more people to have more nurses in the program.”
If they complete the program, nurses will be required to work at least five years in a Beacon facility. Paturalski said the goal is not only to help new nurses complete their education, but also to keep their talent in the region.
“It’s really unique to provide care to the community from the community members,” she said. “Our nurses are serving their people – this is our community, and our health challenges are the ones that are unique to us.”
Applications for the Beacon Scholars program will be available this spring.