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Woodruff Foundation gift focuses on strengthening nursing workforce and advancing nursing education at Emory
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Janet Christenbury
images of nursing student learning from experienced nurse

The Woodruff Foundation gift will be used to expand the nurse residency program at Emory Healthcare and create a nurse fellowship program for continued nursing education at Emory's School of Nursing.

ATLANTA – As the nationwide nursing shortage lingers and as nurse staffing challenges grow, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation hopes to bolster the nursing workforce and advance nursing education at Emory with an $8.5 million grant to Emory Healthcare and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing of Emory University. The generous gift will be used to expand the nurse residency program at Emory Healthcare and create a nurse fellowship program for continued nursing education at the School of Nursing. 

As nursing students are completing their education at Emory’s School of Nursing, the nurse residency program at Emory Healthcare provides support of an experienced nurse known as a nurse preceptor to successfully transition the resident into clinical practice at Emory Healthcare. Using a new teaching model for the pilot nurse residency program, students will be clustered into groups of four students per one nurse preceptor to receive additional on-site support in the hospital setting. Emory Healthcare’s nurse resident program is nationally certified by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

The Woodruff Foundation funds will help increase the number of nurse residents at Emory Healthcare to 700 a year, an increase of 165 nurses receiving expert, hands-on development to prepare them to practice independently as a professional nurse. The additional positions will provide continued support for the excellent nursing care for which Emory Healthcare is known.

“The Woodruff Foundation gift for this newly-designed pilot nurse residency program will help us prepare nurse graduates to transition into clinical nursing positions upon being hired at Emory Healthcare,” says Sharon Pappas, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief nurse executive at Emory Healthcare. “As the national nursing shortage continues, having more nurses prepared for employment will better help us care for our patients and their families.”

In the School of Nursing pilot program, the grant will fund a nurse fellowship program for continued nursing education for recent Emory School of Nursing graduates who have chosen to work at Emory Healthcare as clinical staff nurses. With a focus on retention and additional learning for new graduates, the four-year post-graduate MSN (master of science in nursing) program will be available to 30 students in the fall of 2022 and 50 additional students in the fall of 2023.

“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to demonstrate another model of how academic and practice leaders can collaborate to address the acute national shortage of nurses,” says Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory. “This program will help us move the needle in increasing the retention of nurses at Emory Healthcare by enhanced investment into their journey of lifelong learning.”

“There are no easy or quick answers to the nationwide crisis in nursing, but we hope that our grant will help nurture a new generation of Emory nurses and propel them into satisfying nursing careers,” says P. Russell Hardin, president of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life in Georgia by investing in health, education, economic opportunity and community vitality.

Robert W. Woodruff, the late legendary leader of The Coca-Cola Company, became a major benefactor of Emory beginning in 1937. In 1979, he and his brother, George Woodruff, gave Emory the then-record sum of $105 million, the first nine-figure gift to an institution of higher education, empowering the university to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity. Since then, the Woodruff Foundation has continued to support Emory University and its entities.

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