UNE launches School of Nursing and Population Health

UNE Nursing Marcie Ristich treats a client at Milestone Recovery in Portland
UNE Nursing Marcie Ristich treats a client at Milestone Recovery in Portland

July 08, 2019

The University of New England is pleased to announce that its Department of Nursing is expanding to form a school that reflects the program’s growth and its commitment to public health.

The newly established UNE School of Nursing and Population Health will build upon the Nursing program’s previous work in providing access to nursing education and addressing critical workforce training needs to help nurses treat the state’s most vulnerable populations.

“This is a critical time for nursing education in Maine,” said School of Nursing and Population Health Director Jen Morton. “The state faces a serious shortage of nurses, and UNE is committed to not only increasing the nursing workforce but also providing needed education and training for practicing nurses so that they can be prepared to treat Maine’s most vulnerable people.”

UNE’s Nursing program has a long history of service, recently celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary and the graduation of over 2,200 nurses to the Maine and U.S. workforce. Due to the strong demand and the projected statewide nursing shortage, UNE started a new summer cohort for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program this year, increasing the program’s enrollment by 50 percent. The UNE nursing programs have received well-deserved regional and national recognition for their quality, as exemplified by the most recent (calendar 2018) licensure exam first-time pass rate of 98 percent.

In addition to the boost in student numbers, Westbrook College of Health Professions Dean Karen Pardue views the recent increase in grant funding awarded to UNE’s Nursing program as instrumental in the growth of the department into a school. “The creation of the school definitely reflects the meaningful and substantive grant funding the nursing program has received,” she said.

The program has, in fact, demonstrated a strong record for acquiring competitive grants, having received three federal grants since 2012 totaling $3.5 million. Last year, UNE received a $900,000 grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust to provide scholarships for ABSN students. The program was also awarded a $1.5 million grant by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to increase the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) in Maine who are trained to respond to allegations of sexual assault. 

UNE’s School of Nursing and Population Health will house existing undergraduate nursing programs, including its traditional four-year program as well as the sixteen-month ABSN program for students who already have bachelor’s degrees in other areas of study. The school will also include UNE’s undergraduate Public Health program, and it will be looking to expand program offerings in the near future to include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), public health nursing and nursing education.

Read more from Mainebiz and Maine Public.

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