Pacific receives nearly $1M to support future health care providers

University of the Pacific has received two state grants for nearly $1 million to help support future health care providers.

University of the Pacific’s School of Health Sciences has been awarded nearly $1 million in state grants to further its mission of educating students who can fill the urgent need for health care providers in underserved areas.

Pacific will receive $540,000 for its Entry Level Master of Nursing program and more than $430,000 to create post-undergraduate fellowships for students in any health care discipline.

“We are grateful that the state is investing in our students,” said School of Health Sciences Dean Nicoleta Bugnariu. “Many are from the Central Valley and are committed to returning to their communities to provide the care that is so needed. This funding will help us enhance their education and attract more students.”

Nursing grant to expand training opportunities

The Song-Brown grant, provided by the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, will allow the nursing program to create new training opportunities in places where there is a shortage of registered nurses.

Students currently conduct clinical training in several dozen sites throughout the Central Valley with more than half of them designated as shortage areas.

The funding also will allow the nursing program to expand simulation experiences to better prepare students for real-world scenarios.

The nursing program currently has a 1,650-square feet simulation space, which includes a lab, clinical skills area, simulators, control room and debriefing rooms. Simulation-based learning is incorporated in all clinical courses in the program.

“Human patient simulators are tremendously beneficial for student learning. They provide a safe environment for students to master the skills they have been taught,” said Nursing Chair and Program Director Ann Stoltz. “With this support from the state, we will be able to create even more practice opportunities for skill acquisition and clinical judgement to better prepare our future nurses.”

Pacific’s Entry Level Master of Science in nursing was launched in 2022 due to high demand for bedside nurses in the region. The first cohort will graduate in April 2024.

Supporting underrepresented students

A second grant will create paid fellowships for underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing a graduate health science degree.

“We are so grateful to have this opportunity at Pacific,” said Associate Professor and Chair of Speech-Language Pathology Derek Isetti. “This fellowship will greatly assist students from underrepresented backgrounds as they participate in clinical experiences that will help them to be successful in graduate health science programs.”

Five fellows per year will receive $15,000 each to help their transition through teaching, research, health career workshops, mentorship and other areas.

This is the third grant Pacific has received from the state’s Health Professions Pathways Program. The program is intended to support underrepresented students pursuing health care careers to create a more diverse workforce that better reflects the communities it serves.

Pacific received a $2.5 million grant in 2022 to expand underrepresented students’ access to health professions and a $1.7 million grant earlier this year to increase the number of behavioral health care workers in California.