JCNE Expands New York-North Carolina Collaboration, a Model for Addressing Nursing Education, Workforce Issues Nationally

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, program increases number of baccalaureate-trained nurses in urban and rural settings

The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is expanding a successful program in New York City and North Carolina that joins community colleges and four year institutions in an approach that streamlines the path from an associate’s to a baccalaureate degree and ultimately increases the number of nurses in each region who have advanced educations.

The program, Multi-Regional Model to Increase the Number of Baccalaureate Nurses in the U.S.(RIBN), begun in 2008, is a partnership among the Jonas Center, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation. It is one of 11 initiatives of the Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) program – a first-of-its-kind collaboration of the philanthropic community to foster innovations that help address the nursing crisis. PIN programs are designed to test local innovations that may serve as national models and to encourage additional funding.

“Today’s nurses need the most up-to-date education to care for our aging population’s complex diagnoses, implement new medical technology and play a pivotal role in health care reform,” said Darlene Curley, executive director of the Jonas Center. “Nurses with baccalaureate degrees also feed the pipeline of potential nurse faculty – master’s- and doctorate-prepared nurses – addressing a shortage in the education system that limits the ability to train new nurses.”

Nationally, only 34 percent of the nurse workforce holds a baccalaureate or graduate degree while roughly 45 percent have earned an associate degree and 20 percent a diploma in nursing.¹

“We chose New York and North Carolina to pilot the project because their urban-rural contrast provides a model for addressing in dramatically different environments challenges that all communities and states share,” said Curley.

The RIBN New York program, which began with Queensborough Community College and Hunter College, will expand to include all 13 schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, further accelerating the number of baccalaureate of science in nursing (BSN) graduates. As of 2011, there are 24 students enrolled in the CUNY program.

In North Carolina, where Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College and Western Carolina University piloted the program, the Foundation for Nursing Excellence is also helping expand RIBN statewide. Use of an integrated nursing curriculum at the state’s community college level ensures that all future nurses in North Carolina graduate with the same competencies and are prepared to pursue advanced degrees that would enable them to teach. The first cohort of 16 students entered the RIBN track in North Carolina in 2010 with an increase to 20 students enrolled for 2011.

Support for the RIBN program comes from a $225,000 PIN grant, which is matched by the Jonas Center, which has contributed $450,000 to the program since its inception. The success of the program has already attracted additional funding, including a three-year, $1.37 million grant from the Duke Endowment to support the North Carolina program. Additional funders are also being sought in the New York and North Carolina communities.

RIBN is among the Jonas Center’s core efforts to ease the nation’s continuing shortage of nursing faculty. Other initiatives to address this issue include its Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which supports 58 doctoral nursing students nationally and is on track to support more than 250 by 2013.

“The RIBN expansion helps to address a mandate in the Institute of Medicine The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report to increase the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses to 80 percent by 2020 and to double the number of nurses with doctoral degrees,” said Donald Jonas, co-founder of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. “RIBN helps nurses achieve higher levels of training through an improved educational system that promotes seamless academic progression. The expansion will show how the model can be scaled up and we hope that other states and funders adopt it in their communities – a significant step in tackling the nation’s nursing crisis.”

¹The 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)