Program aims to increase minority presence in field
LOWELL, Mass. ߝ A team of UMass Lowell nursing faculty, led by Prof. Karen Devereaux Melillo, has secured more than $1 million in grant funding to bring more diversity to the nursing program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $894,085 for a three-year program to recruit, retain and graduate high-quality minority and economically disadvantaged nursing students at UMass Lowell. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also has contributed more than $180,000 to a pre-entry recruitment effort designed to educate a more diverse workforce.
“The patient population is becoming more ethnically diverse every day. Hospitals recognize the need to provide culturally competent care,” says Melillo, chair of the Nursing Department. “Our goal is to increase the diversity of professional nurses.”
The multi-layered and ambitious program aims to reach students at all levels of educational experience.
Outreach in urban areas, primarily Lowell and Lawrence, will provide workshops, career fairs and activities for participating schools and other organizations, such as the YMCA. By engaging faculty and students widely in the outreach activities, and adding cross-cultural case studies to the curriculum, the program planners hope to embed diversity throughout the nursing program.
Retention efforts will extend to all nursing students currently enrolled. They may apply for a diversity support program, and, if approved by the enrollment committee, can receive a stipend or scholarship, loan of a laptop computer and access to academic support, tutoring and counseling. Extra guidance and review will help graduating students prepare for the national licensure examination.
“We are reaching out to students who would have to supplement with outside work,” says Melillo. “This is a major factor in retention, as many of our students are struggling with too many hours of employment as they work to complete a rigorous and demanding academic program.”
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.
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