First program of its kind in Central Massachusetts will address workforce shortage in nursing

 January 14, 2004

WORCESTER, Mass.— Many more professional and graduate nurses are needed to provide quality care and to educate future nurses to meet the growing demand in the next 30 years. The Graduate School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Worcester (UMW) has received prerequisite approval from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing to start accepting applications for its Graduate Entry Pathway (GEP) leading to the Master of Science program in nursing.   The first class is scheduled to begin in August 2004.   The GEP will facilitate graduate study and careers in nursing for recent college graduates as well as adults with bachelor’s degrees in areas other than nursing. Students enrolled in the GEP will be qualified to become licensed registered nurses after completion of the first year of the three-year program that concludes with the master’s degree. When they earn the master’s, they will be qualified to become nurse practitioners and nurse educators.

The GEP concept focuses on pressing needs in workforce development: It will produce highly educated registered nurses, especially in high-need specialty areas, such as: geriatrics and critical care. It will prepare advanced practice nurses who can ameliorate the shortage of nursing instructors.  And it will accommodate the market for highly trained nurses. “Adults with bachelor’s degrees represent the fastest growing cohort enrolling in nursing programs nationwide,” GSN Dean Doreen Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN, explained. The GEP brings talented individuals to nursing, with previous education and backgrounds that will greatly enhance our profession.”

The UMW GEP is the first program of its kind that will be accessible to residents in Central Massachusetts, and prepare them for the many opportunities in nursing throughout the region. It will offer students the ideal educational setting of the integrated academic health sciences center comprising the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center. The only public institution of higher education offering a nursing GEP in the state, the GSN’s tuition will be lower than that of similar programs at private universities throughout the state.

The first year of GEP study at the GSN will prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses) in their second year of the three-year program. Students will gain extensive clinical experience. They will complete a clinical internship at a leading health care institution during the summer between the first and second years, followed by a paid mentored residency in hospital- and community-based practices during years two and three. The GSN has partnered with state agencies and community-based health care sites statewide, as well as with its clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care, to offer GEP students a wide range of nursing internship and residency placements. “This approach, similar to traditional medical training, is the emerging model for health-professions education, creating more effective care teams resulting in quality health care,” Dr. Harper said.

Institutions and individuals interested in learning more about the Graduate Entry Pathway – Master of Science in nursing program at the Graduate School of Nursing can contact the school at 508-856-3359. Ask for Kathleen Thies, PhD, RN, program director or Ann Lobdell, administrative assistant.  More information is available at . The Graduate School of Nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

The University of Massachusetts Worcester, one of the fastest growing academic health sciences centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.   Comprising the Graduate School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences as well as the School of Medicine, UMMS attracts more than $151 million in research funding annually. A perennial top ten finisher in the annual US News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMW is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service. More information is available at .

Contact: Sandra Gray, Office of Public Affairs, (508) 856-2000,