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Nursing students
Roseman University College of Nursing students Charisse Ramos, left, and Reba Mathew discuss a childbirth case for a health mannequin simulation at the Henderson, Nev. campus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jeff Scheid)

CareFirst provides $80k stipends for 12 nursing students

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield committed this week to invest nearly $1 million in a program that’s been chipping away at the shortage of nurse educators.

Through a company initiative called “Project RN,” CareFirst provides stipends to nurses who pursue master’s or doctoral degrees in nursing at local universities, and then go on to teach in those nursing schools themselves.

The insurance company’s latest investment of $960,000 will provide stipends of $80,000 for as many as 12 students who begin classes either this spring or in the fall. The stipends will be distributed over three years.

One student was selected to receive the stipend by officials at each of the following institutions: Bowie State University; Marymount University; Coppin State University; Notre Dame of Maryland University; Stevenson University; George Washington University; Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; Salisbury University; Johns Hopkins University; and George Mason University.

The 12th stipend will be awarded to a student at Morgan State University pending accreditation of its nursing program by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which is anticipated later this year.

Recipients must agree to teach nursing for at least three years at a college in Maryland, Washington D.C.  or Northern Virginia.

CareFirst launched Project RN in 2007 to help mitigate the nationwide shortage of qualified nurse educators, which doesn’t usually get as much attention as the shortage of registered nurses who work at the bedside.

“Few know that one of the root causes of the nursing shortage is a lack of qualified nurse educators,” said Maria Tildon, CareFirst’s senior vice president of public policy and community affairs, in a statement. “Project RN identifies skilled candidates and gives them the tools they need to succeed as nurse educators in our communities. Without dedicated nurse educators, our health care system will continue to experience a shortage of qualified bedside nurses.”

There will be more than 1 million job openings for nurses by 2022, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since 2007, CareFirst has invested nearly $3 million to help 42 nurses seek advanced degrees to become nurse educators.