TOWSON -- Nurses continue to be in high demand as hospitals are still struggling to fill their ranks. But, in Baltimore County, a new partnership could fill that gap.
From the beginning, our nurses have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. It continues to be an uphill battle.
"Despite those immeasurable challenges we have seen in healthcare over these last three years, I will tell you, we're still fighting," said Nicole Beeson, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Joseph Medical Center.
It's a battle they're fighting with far less staff. Beeson said one-in-four nurses have left.
"We've had a huge amount of turnover at the bedside, higher numbers than we've ever seen," she said. "So, we are rebuilding and recruiting, but this will take time."
To help the issue, St. Joseph Medical Center, Baltimore County and the Community College of Baltimore have partnered up to jumpstart the Public Health Pathways Program.
The program will fully cover tuition for CCBC's Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. Once completed, they'll be guaranteed a job at St. Joseph, where they'll continue their education on-site as well. Those participating in the program also get a $1,000 stipend a month.
The overall goal for the program: take down the barriers to let more people in the door.
"if a parent can't afford childcare that enables them to go to work, they'll never be able to get ahead," said Johnny Olszewski, Baltimore County Executive. "If a student has a dream but can't afford the training they need, they'll be left behind."
Beeson knows this program is going to help fill her vacancies, because she went through it herself.
"It offered a schedule where I could still take care of my three very, very young children. Not only did it serve as the foundation for my clinical practice, but it reminded me there are others that need to continue to have access and we need to continue paving that way for all of them," she said.
The first 30 to be in this pilot program will be announced early next year, they then begin their work in the summer.
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