College of Nursing

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Center for Nursing Leadership officially designated university center; $250,000 grant to address nursing shortage

August 16, 2007

The East Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership, housed within the East Carolina University School of Nursing, has been designated an official university center.

ECU supports and recognizes more than 30 centers and institutes, which lead research and development in areas ranging from childhood obesity to coastal resources. The ECU Centers and Institutes Review Committee voted unanimously on July 26 to recommend to the Academic Council that the East Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership designation be approved. The Academic Council approved it Aug. 15.

The ECCNL's mission is to mobilize nurses to be effective partners and leaders in creating healthier communities in eastern North Carolina. Begun in 2006, the ECCNL promotes leadership development for students and practicing nurses through education, research and consultation with rural health systems.

The first endeavor to support this mission will be funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through a two-year, $250,000 grant awarded to the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation to partner with ECCNL to identify solutions to the region's nursing shortage. The PMHF was selected as one of 11 foundations nationwide to receive funding in the second year of the Partners Investing in Nursing's Future, a national initiative to develop and test solutions to America's nursing shortage. Led by the RWJF and the Northwest Health Foundation, the program encourages local foundations to act as catalysts in developing grassroots strategies to establish a stable, adequate nursing work force, according to a hospital news release.

Recruitment and retention of nurses, particularly specialty care, advanced practice and administrative nurses is a challenge in eastern North Carolina. Administrators currently spend three to four months finding nurses to fill these positions, according to the grant application.

Using grant funding, the ECCNL will establish nursing councils in six to nine rural counties to unite nurse leaders, high school health occupation educators, community college health sciences deans and ECU to develop strategies for increasing the supply of nurses in their communities. Grant funds will also be used to develop online forums for nurses in rural counties to discuss issues and challenges and provide scholarships to rural nurse educators for competency development required by the N.C. Board of Nursing, said Dr. Elaine Scott, director of the center.

"We are honored to be participating in this national program to help identify solutions for our country's nursing shortage," said Scott, who is also assistant professor and director of the nursing leadership concentration in the school's graduate program. "We look forward to working with the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation to help the people of eastern North Carolina by increasing educational opportunities for our nurses."