NJCU will use nearly $800K in federal funding to help increase equitable access to online nursing education

The new world of health care calls for new ways to educate the next generation of health care workers. New Jersey City University, thanks to nearly $800,000 in federal aid, now will be able to do just that.

NJCU will receive $782,000 in appropriated funds, which will be earmarked to revamp the university’s online nursing offerings.

The school’s Department of Nursing and its online nursing discipline said it will use the funding to help increase equitable access to high-demand online nursing education at the school.

It’s certainly needed.

The nursing shortage statistics are staggering. By 2030, New Jersey is projected to experience a shortage of 10,000 nurses across the state. Currently, New Jersey’s nursing shortage is ranked third-most-severe in the country — behind only the two most populous states in the nation according to the 2020 census figures, California (39.5 million) and Texas (29.1 million), compared to New Jersey, which is only the 11th-most-populated state at 9.29 million.

As New Jersey continues to grapple with a statewide nursing shortage that was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding will enhance the university’s ability to provide equitable access to high-demand online nursing education (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) in the region and ultimately graduate highly qualified nurses to serve the ever-changing needs of citizens of New Jersey. The federal funding will enhance the technical framework and expand educational opportunities.

NJCU interim President Andres Acebo said the funding will have great impact.

“NJCU has a storied history of providing and championing equitable access and pipelines to education, including educating nurses,” he said. “This strategic investment from the federal government in the state’s oldest minority-serving and Hispanic-serving public university, with the most socioeconomically diverse student body, enhances the reach of the institution’s mission of meeting our students wherever they are — so they can enter to learn from anywhere, and exit to serve a state in desperate need of nurses after the pandemic.

“As technology and learning styles change, we also must change how we deliver this education, and we are uniquely positioned to deliver this service to our population of underserved students.

“I especially wish to thank Sen. (Bob) Menendez for understanding and championing the value of our institution and its indispensable role in elevating future nurses. Together, we are educating socially conscious and dedicated nurses and public health professionals.”

Menendez (D-N.J.), a Hudson County native, was the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree in June, when he addressed the graduates of the NJCU Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony. He said he understands how critical online nursing education is to the residents of New Jersey.

“The Fiscal Year 2023 funding bill we passed at the end of last year contains significant wins and critical funding for New Jersey, including $181 million for community projects throughout the state that I helped secure,” he said.

“I was proud to advocate on behalf of New Jersey City University to help deliver funds that would provide online nursing students the opportunity to flexibly balance family, work, school and their other priorities. This funding supports the preparation needed for nursing students to have successful careers in our health care system from the comfort of their home, saving them money while doing so.”

It is yet another important investment in a nursing program that has been recognized for its excellence. In October 2022, NJCU’s nursing program was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for 2022-2025 for its iNurse Initiative in the Accelerated BSN degree program — a designation following more than a decade of use of Apple technology by the university as a part of the initiative.

NJCU, which offers nursing education at its new NJCU @ Fort Monmouth location and its state-of-state art nursing education center in Rossey Hall on its main campus, has been ranked for the quality of its nursing programs. Notably, in the 2021 Nursing School Almanac rankings, NJCU @ Fort Monmouth was ranked the No. 1 Prelicensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in the state of New Jersey.

Dr. Joyce Wright, chair of the NJCU Nursing Department and its RN to BSN coordinator, said the funding will help the school transition its services.

“As chair of the nursing department, I know that nursing faculty are looking forward to transitioning in-person courses to online format, thereby providing flexibility for working professionals enrolled in our RN-to-BSN program as well as students in our one-year, accelerated nursing program,” she said. “Like NJCU’s entire student body, our nursing students reflect the diversity of our communities and offering this additional accommodation will enable them to earn degrees more conveniently and more rapidly begin meeting the essential health care needs of their underserved populations.”