02/19/04 — Cherry sponsors nursing scholarships

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Cherry sponsors nursing scholarships

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 19, 2004 1:57 PM

A scholarship program has been launched at Wayne Community College to recruit nurses to Cherry Hospital.

Cherry has given $25,000 to the college's foundation for scholarships to entice nurses into the field of psychiatric medicine. In return, recipients will be asked to commit to work one year at Cherry.

Director of Nursing Peggy Hardison said there has been a long affiliation with the college, where students have come to earn clinical experience. The hope is always to make it a positive experience so that they will want to work in the field of psychiatric nursing.

"I like to tell students that a psychiatric setting is one of the few that really allows for holistic nursing -- caring for body, mind and spirit," she said. "The scholarship recipients will hopefully enjoy their clinical experience here and look forward to the employment phase of the commitment."

As is the case with health care across the country, it has been a challenge to keep enough nurses, Ms. Hardison said. Public agencies are not as competitive with incentives for nurses, she said.

"Even when the majority of our positions are filled, we always have a significant number of staff out on family medical leave," she said. "We have had to utilize agency nurses, often called traveler nurses, for the past two years to help cover for our 35 to 40 direct-care RN vacancies."

Glenda Potts, assistant director of human resources at Cherry, said that having all of the spaces filled through the scholarship program could save the hospital a lot of money in overtime and payment of contract nurses.

Dr. Jerry Edwards, hospital director, is the chairman of a statewide group looking at nursing recruitment issues. This project is an outgrowth of that.

Jack Kannan, director of the college's foundation, said the arrangement is similar to what has been done with Wayne Memorial Hospital.

"The 'grow your own' concept is spreading," he said. "It adds to the recruiting tools at the hospital."

Ms. Potts said that Wayne Community was chosen because it has the first line of contact with the students.

"They'd be in the best position to know which students might be interested," she said.

The pilot program started in January and involves a two-year commitment. Ms. Potts said the hope is that funding will continue beyond that.

"This program will serve as a pilot, and if successful, it will provide a model for the state psychiatric hospitals to replicate," said Dr. Edwards.