BOSTON – Representative Jamie Zahlaway Belsito (D-Topsfield) and Representative Thomas P. Walsh (D-Peabody) announce a $10 million dollar nursing pipeline reserve fund as part of House Bill 5007, An Act relating to economic growth and relief for the commonwealth. The fund will provide tuition forgiveness for students pursuing an advanced nursing degree, who, upon graduation, commit to instructing in the nursing student program for a period of at least five years.
“Representative Walsh and I worked very hard with House leadership to address this glaring healthcare crisis. We simply do not have enough educators to teach our nursing students. The goal of this newly designed fund is to help create a necessary and critical faculty pipeline to mentor and
teach a highly skilled nursing workforce.”, said Representative Belsito. “There simply is no better place for us to help achieve narrowing this gap than to make crucial investments into our own public higher educational institutions.”
Nursing faculty is down approximately thirty percent since 2015. Across the country, nursing schools are turning away upwards of 80K qualified applicants in nursing programs with insufficient faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.
“Nurses have been on the front-line working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, often taking on increased caseloads in an already high pressure and understaffed environment. By adopting our amendment today, the House reaffirms our support for nurses across Massachusetts,” said Representative Walsh. “By strengthening the nursing instructor pipeline, more classroom slots will be made available for students, resulting in more nursing degrees being awarded by our state universities.”
The reserve fund was designed following a series of discussions with stakeholders within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the healthcare field.
“I want to congratulate and thank Representative Belsito and Representative Walsh for their leadership on this crucial issue that affects our campus, the communities we serve, and really the entire Commonwealth.” said John D. Keenan, president of Salem State University. “As president of the North Shore’s only public, four-year comprehensive university, I hear frequently from health care industry leaders about the exceptional need for nurses. This amendment provides a much-needed leap forward as we seek to grow our capacity to prepare the region’s future nurses and help this crucial profession thrive. And, of course, we are extremely proud that both Representatives Belsito and Walsh are Viking alumni.”
According to the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the vacancy rate for nurse positions has more than doubled since before the pandemic.
“Nurses are critical to the delivery of quality health care in our region and throughout Massachusetts, and the ongoing nurse staffing shortage is a serious problem for our hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers. While there is no shortage of potential students eager to be trained and enter the workforce, we do face a serious obstacle in recruiting qualified instructors to educate them. The creation of this funding reserve will have a tremendous impact in helping to build the nursing workforce we need immediately, and for the future.”, said State Senator Bruce Tarr (R Gloucester)
House Bill 5007 now heads to the State Senate for consideration
Representative Belsito serves as the State Representative for the 13th Essex District, serving the residents of Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. She can be reached by telephone at 617-722-2460 or by email at Jamie.Belsito@mahouse.gov.
Representative Walsh serves as the State Representative for the 12th Essex District, serving the residents of Peabody in Wards 1-4 and Precincts 1 and 3 in Ward 5. Representative Walsh can be reached by telephone at 617-722-2676 or by email at Thomas.Walsh@mahouse.gov.