Combatting South Carolina’s nursing shortage in the next few years will take a team effort, involving health care companies as well as universities who train the essential health care workers.
Through the Prisma Health Nursing Scholars program announced last fall, Prisma Health is providing $5 million to five South Carolina schools, including USC Columbia and USC Upstate, which will receive $1.3 million each.
USC Columbia nursing graduates are in the top 1 percent in the nation for pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.
The program also helps the next generation of South Carolina nurses understand their roles within a larger health care system.
“We believe the Prisma Health Nursing Scholars program — done in partnership with our academic partners like USC — will help us provide unique experiences to nursing students across South Carolina, which will benefit our future RNs as well as the patients they serve,” says Veronica M. Deas, executive director, nursing scholarship and program development for Prisma Health. “This innovative program provides students an opportunity to experience the Prisma Health culture from a system perspective, while understanding how the role of the RN is integrated into the system.”
As part of the program, students also have opportunities to network and shadow practitioners in the field.
“Unlike the focus of a clinical rotation to learn clinical skills, this program is focused on providing access to select shadowing experiences, engagement in a community project and mentorship,” Deas says. “These unique experiences will support students in their transition into the role of an independent, confident practicing RN.”
Between the five participating schools, the Prisma Health Nursing Scholars program should initially impact more than 200 students statewide. Because a large portion of the gifts is endowed, they will have an ongoing impact on future nursing students.
“Prisma Health is providing our nursing students with opportunities for scholarships and access to clinical experiences,” says USC College of Nursing Dean Jeannette Andrews. “This pilot nursing program will support USC College of Nursing’s commitment to solve the critical nursing shortage in our state with affordable solutions for our students.”
Jenna Syslo, who is part of the initial cohort of Prisma Health scholars at USC Columbia, begins her upper division nursing coursework in the summer and says she has already started working on a community service project involving families with children in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“One of the things that I’ve loved about Prisma Health Scholars is that we’re getting to learn more about community service and doing that in the health care field,” Syslo says. “Growing up, I wanted to work in a field that helped and supported people. And I feel like health care is a great way to do that.”
After spring break, Syslo will get the opportunity to shadow an emergency nurse or a nurse practitioner. Her ultimate goal, after working as a nurse for a few years, is to return to school to become a nurse practitioner.