Nursing Education Programs to Benefit from $107.2 Million HHS Award

Nursing Education Programs to Benefit from $107.2 Million HHS Award

The Department of Health and Human Services is hoping a $107.2 million-dollar award will help to expand care in rural and underserved communities. The special funds will go out to 310 recipients in 45 states and US territories in an attempt to increase financial and professional support for physicians, faculty, dentists, nurses, and students working in high-need areas.

According to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, “Supporting a strong health workforce is essential to improving health in rural and underserved communities. We’ve seen stark disparities in health and healthcare access contribute to the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Four nursing education programs will benefit from this award:

  • The Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), which provides funds to accredited nursing schools for loans to students in advanced education degree programs who are committed to become nurse faculty.
  • Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS), which supports school scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are enrolled in a health profession program or nursing program.
  • The Nurse Anesthetist Traineeship (NAT) Program, designed to increase the number of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), especially those providing care to rural and underserved populations.
  • The Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Program (IPCP): Behavioral Health Integration (BHI), which directs funds to develop behavioral health services in nurse-led primary care teams in rural or underserved areas.

For full details, visit the HHS announcement.

GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

GWU Receives 2.5 Million for Veterans’ BSN Aid Program

The George Washington University School of Nursing has just received the largest philanthropic gift in the school’s history. Through the William and Joanne Conway Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative, $2.5 million in financial aid is being made available to help eligible military veterans working toward a BSN degree. The gift is expected to support more than 65 students over the next five years.

Donors William Conway, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, and his wife Joanne are long-time supporters of nursing education. School of Nursing Dean Pamela Jeffries commented, “The Conways’ commitment to our military veterans is unwavering, and so is ours at the GW School of Nursing. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it’s gifts like these that enable us to grow our veteran student population and provide the resources they need to succeed.”

The aid program will be welcomed by veterans. Despite the assistance available through military benefits such as the GI Bill, many vets still find it a challenge to support themselves and their families when they re-enter the civilian world and attempt to pursue a degree. The Conways are happy to offer a helping hand. “The Transitioning Warriors Nursing Scholars Initiative is designed to reward the brave men and women of our armed forces who seek to continue their service to our country as civilian nurses,” Mr. Conway stated. GWU President Thomas LeBlanc responded, “We are grateful to the Conways for enabling this investment when our nation’s nursing workforce and veterans need it most.”

Founded 10 years ago, the George Washington University School of Nursing is currently the sixth ranked school in the US News and World Report assessment of online graduate nursing programs. The gift was presented in May, while the school was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

For further details on this story, visit GWToday at the University website.

Dealing with Financial Aid During a Time of National and Personal Crisis

Dealing with Financial Aid During a Time of National and Personal Crisis

1. I just became unemployed and when I submitted my FAFSA back in October, I was told that we didn’t qualify for any need aid assistance. What do I do now?

a. Step One: Go immediately to your college’s financial aid website to see if there are any updates on how to appeal. If there are no updates check to see if any instructions are listed on how to appeal. Some colleges have step-by-step instructions, and some simply do not. Or, call or email the college for advice.

b. Step Two: How to Appeal: Gather all necessary paper documentation that supports your appeal letter. Any type of loss of family income is appealable, as long as you can prove your situation. Even loss of savings can be appealed in addition to unemployment. Make sure to keep a copy of all appeal information and then by certified mail to your college’s financial aid office.

c. Step Three: When to Appeal: Appeal immediately because hundreds, if not thousands of your classmates will be appealing as well. Warning: Do not self-decide if you should appeal. You can’t win if you choose not to appeal, even if you or your family’s income used to be high.

2. How often do appeals get granted?

a. Usually about 30% of the time, but that percentage will be increasing due to the Coronavirus and all its impact.

3. Could I possibly qualify for any other aid, such as state aid?

a. Yes! Check with your state Higher Education Agency and ask how you can appeal for additional need-based funding. Also ask your financial aid office for guidance.

4. I am a grad nursing student and I received some need-based grant funds. Do I follow the same steps you have just described to appeal for additional assistance?

a. Yes, however, you need to appeal directly to the graduate school of nursing financial aid office, not the undergraduate financial aid office.

5. Will appealing for more financial aid reduce my chances of being admitted to my college of choice?

a. No. Every college is trying their best to address students’ needs. The issue will be the amount of additional funding available. Some colleges have large endowments, and some do not. That’s why it is urgent to appeal now!

6. Since it will take time to have my appeal reviewed, is there any other kind of immediate funds assistance? I don’t want to deal with a lot of red tape.

a. The good news is yes! Colleges and universities have historically had emergency funds available for students, but they are not always well-known, nor well-advertised.

b. Today, several schools have made funds available to give to students in the form of one-time grants as the ongoing pandemic has forced thousands of students to leave their campus and cope with financial hardship.b. Today, several schools have made funds available to give to students in the form of one-time grants as the ongoing pandemic has forced thousands of students to leave their campus and cope with financial hardship.

c. Ask your school if it has an emergency loan or grant fund you can apply for, and how you apply. Best to ask the financial aid office for assistance.

7. Even if I have been awarded my maximum amount of financial aid, I can still apply for emergency funds?

a. Yes. An emergency is an emergency. You need funds now.  Just remember that emergency funds are limited, so make that call ASAP. Make sure to specify how much you need and how the Coronavirus adversely impacted you.

8. Since I was told by the college that I had to leave campus due to COVID-19, how do I appeal to get my money back for my room and board that I already paid?

a. Great question. It all depends. Every college is handling this issue differently. Some colleges will give students who paid their bill for the spring semester a prorated credit for room and board to be applied for the fall semester. Other schools will allow students to receive a partial refund for the difference in their prorated housing and dining plans. You have to ask the office of on-campus housing how you can get a refund.

9. What can I say to alert I my college that I am financially in trouble?

a. Appeal for additional fund consideration by saying “I will have to drop out!” The reality is, it costs more to recruit a student than it does to retain a student. And schools are all about saving money and helping students.

10. Can I appeal for additional merit scholarship assistance, not based on financial need (my income) or my family’s income?

a. Yes, you can and should. As we wrote in our book, take ownership of the college funding process, either need-based or merit-based.

b. Best way to appeal for additional merit scholarship funds due the pandemic is to appeal directly to the office that awarded you the merit scholarship. For example, most colleges will award merit scholarships from the admissions office if you are a first time undergrad, as in a freshman. The other office to contact would be the office of your major: English, History, Engineering, etc. Review your merit award letter and determine which office or offices gave you your merit award and appeal directly to the awarding authority.

See more tips and best practices from – Pay for Your Graduate Nursing Education Without Going Broke: Tips from the Pros

By: Carl Buck MS, CCPS & Rick Darvis CPA, CCPS

Ballad Health Investing $10 Million in Nurses’ Raises

Ballad Health Investing $10 Million in Nurses’ Raises

Ballad Health, a healthcare system serving parts of Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, recently committed $10 million to ensuring their nurses receive well-deserved raises. As the Kingsport Times News reported, this investment will be directly put toward wages for acute care registered nurses, long-term care licensed practicing nurses, and scrub techs, among other roles for direct inpatient care and behavioral health.

Alan Levine, Executive Chairman, President and CEO of Ballad Health, shared this announcement during National Nurses Week in an email to Ballad Health team members, noting that this increase will be helping thousands of employees.

“These areas of focus have been most impacted by the national shortages of health manpower, and have consistently shown the greatest number of vacancies throughout the nation, and certainly our experience is no different here,” Levine stated in his email. “We compete heavily for these professionals and must continue to do so.”

The pay increases will go into effect on June 23 for existing team members. This investment will also affect starting hourly rates for new hires.

“Our nurses and those who work with them in the provision of direct patient care are heroes,” Levine added. “Each of us does important work, and that, no doubt, is an important fact. Our amazing nurses would be the first to say they could not do their work without all the people who make a hospital or health care facility operate. And that is part of the humility that makes them great servants. However, it is also true that in an environment where we face a significant national shortage of these critical health care providers, a shortage so significant that the productivity of our nurses and direct bedside caregivers is as high as it has ever been, it is important we appropriately recognize the sacrifice that is being made.”

For more information about Ballad Health, click here.

UNLV to Develop Continuing Education Nursing Programs Through State Grant

UNLV to Develop Continuing Education Nursing Programs Through State Grant

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has rewarded the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Nursing with a $900,000 grant. UNLV will put the grant toward expanding new advanced training opportunities and continuing education for nurses.

UNLV received the grant to develop nursing certificates designed to meet specific needs around the state, such as teaching, specialty care, and clinical research.

“We are excited to be able to expand the skills and competencies of Nevada nurses as clinical research nurses, genetics counselors, and clinical preceptors,” Angela Amar, professor and dean of the UNLV School of Nursing, shared with the UNLV News Center. “This funding allows us the opportunity to advance the health of Nevada citizens by increasing the capabilities of our nurses.”

The grant support, which originated from the GOED’s Workforce Innovations for a New Nevada program, is a continuation of UNLV’s plans in recent years to work on solving the state’s continually evolving medical needs. The UNLV School of Nursing has seen an admission increase of 50 percent since fall 2017 for BSN candidates. The school also has one of the top-ranked online master’s degree programs, and is also home to the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas (CSCLV). The CSCLV, a technologically advanced educational facility, provides nursing and medical students opportunities to practice their skills through various simulations.

“At the UNLV School of Nursing, we educate nurses to provide the highest quality care for the citizens of Nevada,” Amar said. “The developing Las Vegas medical district and UNLV medical school make it important that nursing grows also. The increase in enrollment furthers our ability to meet the health care needs of our diverse population. With a critical need for highly trained nurses across our region and state, expanding our BSN class sizes will increase the number of graduates who can meet this demand.”

The planned certificate programs, which include Certified Nursing Assistant Instructors, Clinical Research Administrators, and Health Information Technology and Data Analytics, were developed in partnership with several health care organizations across the state, such as University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, and Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada. These partners will help with job placement for all certification program participants.

The Valley Health System, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, and the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. Health care employer partners, along with projected industry growth, will ensure successful placement of participants following their completion of the various programs, to ensure these nurses provide the best possible care to Nevada patients.

For more information about UNLV’s School of Nursing, click here.

Ballad Health Investing $10 Million in Nurses’ Raises

Nurse Leaders: Get to Know Trio of Reimbursement Models

It’s probably safe to say that nurse leaders’ favorite subject is not finance. But in today’s healthcare industry, financial incentives and reimbursement have become so entwined with patient care and outcomes, that you cannot have one without considering the other.

Below are recent HealthLeaders Media articles to help nurse leaders make sense out of the dollars and cents attached to patient care.

Five Reasons You Can Benefit from the New Voluntary Bundles

Last year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reined in its mandatory bundled payment models, leaving many healthcare providers concerned that investments they made to prepare for these models might for naught.

But those investments in value-based care models may not go wasted after all under CMS’ new voluntary Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced model.

Participants in the new model will be expected to keep Medicare expenditures within a defined budget, while maintaining or improving performance on these seven specific quality measures:

  • All-cause hospital re-admissions
  • Advanced care plan
  • Perioperative care: Selection of prophylactic antibiotic (first or second generation cephalosporin)
  • Hospital-level risk-standardized complication rate following elective primary total hip arthroplasty and/or total knee arthroplasty
  • Hospital 30-day, all-cause, risk-standardized mortality rate following coronary artery bypass graft surgery
  • Excess days in acute care after hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality patient safety indicators

New Uncompensated Care Calculation

CMS is changing its formula for calculating and allocating funds for uncompensated care for hospitals that qualify under its Disproportionate Share Hospital program. This new method presents both opportunities and challenges for organizations.

Thanks to the changes, hospitals may be able to identify care currently written off without a determination of financial need. Additionally, the new methodology for calculation of Factor 3 — a hospital-specific factor representing its share of the total uncompensated care provided — may allow hospitals to capture a larger portion of uncompensated care funds.

However, leaders should be aware that CMS is phasing in the use of cost report Worksheet S-10 data, including charity care and unreimbursed bad debt. This year, one-third of Factor 3 will be based on this data, but by fiscal year 2020, use of this data will be fully implemented.

To ensure compliance with reporting data on Worksheet S-10, leaders need to review new guidance from CMS as well as their own organizational policies for charity care determinations, uninsured patient discounts, and bad debt collections. Training for staff involved with submission of the cost report and handling charity care write-off is imperative.

Value-Based Payments Must Address Patient Mix

One concern consistently raised about the implementation of pay-for-performance models is that healthcare providers and organizations serving more complex patients would not reap the same rewards as hospitals caring for less sick patients.

New research suggests that those fears may be warranted. A November 2017 study found that Medicare’s Value-based Payment Modifier program inadvertently shifted money away from physicians who treated sicker, poorer patients to pay for bonuses that rewarded practices treating richer, healthier populations.

The study’s lead author Eric Roberts, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, said that if changes aren’t made, value-based payment models will continue to foster this inequity.

“Risk adjustment is usually inadequate in these programs, in part, because it is difficult to measure the differences in complexity of patients across providers. We need to take a careful look at how incentives in these programs are structured and how performance is assessed in order to create the right incentives to improve value and outcomes for the most vulnerable patients,” Roberts said.

This story was originally posted on MedPage Today.

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