Prisma Health is investing $5 million in a pilot nursing recruitment program at five S.C. universities and colleges — Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Upstate, Greenville Technical College and Midlands Technical College.
The health care network said the investment is to help combat a critical nursing shortage in the state.
The Prisma Health Nursing Scholars program includes scholarships and increased access to clinical experiences and mentorship for students in their junior and senior years, according to a news release.
The program also will fund:
- additional adviser positions
- adding educational and student-success resources within those schools
- creating a collaborative approach that partners employers and educators
- expanding the hiring pipeline from the state’s nursing schools to Prisma Health hospitals.
The program builds on Health’s nationally recognized MedEx Academy, which helps high school and college students explore and pursue health care careers.
“Prisma Health is committed to creating a strong, durable and successful pipeline of health care workers for South Carolina,” Mark O’Halla, president and CEO of Prisma Health, said in the news release. “Our collaborative efforts to create the nursing scholars program combines academics, research, innovation and health care practice to address the changing needs and experiences necessary to create the health care workforce of the future. Through this investment, we are creating pathways for student to obtain vibrant careers at Prisma Health with a future for growth and advancement.”
As many as 210 nursing students statewide could benefit from the pilot program, the news release said.
Each of the academic institutions committed financial and staffing resources to support the initiative and will collaborate with Prisma Health on joint fundraising opportunities to help support the nursing scholars program, the release stated.
“Clemson is proud to participate in the Prisma Health Nursing Scholars program as we partner with Prisma and these other excellent nursing programs to positively impact health outcomes across the state of South Carolina,” Clemson executive vice president and Provost Bob Jones said in the release. “This new initiative will build upon our relationship with Prisma Health — one which has enabled Clemson to double its nursing undergraduate program since 2018 — and continue to enable Clemson’s top students to become health providers in our state.”
Clemson’s nursing program has a facility on the Prisma Health campus in a building shared with the USC School of Medicine Greenville.
Highly qualified nurses are a critical need for South Carolina, the release said, which ranks among the top four states in the country for the highest shortage of nurses per capita. According to RegisteredNursing.org, the state is projected to have a deficit of 10,000 nurses by 2030. An instructor shortage, an aging nursing population and pandemic burnout have all impacted the national and local workforce, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
There are a lot of facilities and clinical sites that need nurses right now,” Shirleatha Lee, dean of Mary Black College of Nursing at USC Upstate. “Being able to make that transition into practice much easier and more streamlined is a benefit to not only the student but also the facility. The scholarships help support student success and progression toward degree completion because they allow students to work less and focus more on their education.”
Prisma Health, which is the state’s largest healthcare organization, employs more than 7,300 nurses.
“We want to provide extraordinarily rich experiences and mentorship for nursing students — in essence to roll out a welcoming red carpet for them in addition to providing financial assistance," Brenda Thames, Prisma Health’s vice president and chief academic executive officer, said in the release.
Most of the nursing programs will launch the initiative in January. USC Upstate launched its program in September with 24 students.
“Prisma Health is one of the top employers of Greenville Technical College students,” Larry Miller, Greenville Tech vice president of learning and workforce development, said in the release. “We are excited to grow our workforce development efforts in connection with one of our strongest partners through a grant program that specifically addresses the nursing shortage. This effort is aimed at giving our students early access to flexible financial support for enrolled scholars and professional mentoring and development from Prisma Health’s onsite advising and training team. With a seamless track for scholars to grow their clinical knowledge and professional identity and qualify for employment as a registered nurse at Prisma Health, this partnership will have a lasting positive impact on healthcare in our community.”