For several years, the College of Nursing has enjoyed a partnership with Philadelphia’s Independence Blue Cross (IBC). IBC launched its Nurse Scholars Program in March 2004 in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation (PHEF) to address the shortage of nurses and nursing faculty in the southeastern Pennsylvania region. The 3-year, $3 million grant program benefits undergraduate and graduate students at many area nursing schools. Villanova nursing students have received scholarships from IBC to support their undergraduate nursing education or their graduate—both master’s and doctoral—studies in nursing education. IBC recognized the priority need for nurse educators to ease current shortages in nursing, thereby improving patient care.
IBC, the leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania, is contributing $1.74 million over three years to the program, which seeks to increase the number of nursing instructors in the region’s graduate nursing programs. In addition, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation (PHEF) is contributing $510,000 to the Scholars Program. IBC is also committing an additional $750,000 over the next three years to PHEF’s Nursing Education Initiative in southeastern Pennsylvania, which will provide financial assistance to aspiring undergraduate nursing students. PHEF is a non-government, nonprofit organization seeking to create, expand and enhance affordable options for postsecondary education for students, families and schools.
IBC is aligned with PHEF in providing the Nursing Faculty Lines Program grant to schools of nursing in the Commonwealth. This initiative will help fund the College’s new faculty appointee to the BSNExpress Program. The College will use the opportunity to add a second cohort of adult students with a degree in another discipline who seek a bachelor’s degree in nursing through this accelerated 14-month program. The additional group of 40 students began coursework in May 2007 on an evening and weekend basis.
In 2005, IBC developed its summer Nurse Internship Program for students interested in learning more about health care through the eyes of the insurer. The students have been intrigued by their exposure to writing medical policies, educating and advocating for patients, and working with case managers. Both undergraduate and graduate students have taken advantage of this unique opportunity.