With the demand for healthcare growing, hospital systems across North Carolina and the nation are experiencing nursing staff shortages. To address this need, Cape Fear Valley Health System established a nursing career development program to create a pipeline of qualified nursing staff to fill needed roles.
A critical arm of the program is the Nursing Aide (NA) II Bridge program, launched in 2016. Offered to Cape Fear Valley Health System employees, the program is designed to help entry-level nursing aides advance their skills and careers, increasing the number of trained nursing aides in the region. After successfully completing the program and passing the exam, participants advance from NA I to NA II, a credential issued by the NC Board of Nursing.
Each year, Cape Fear Valley Health offers the NA II Bridge program to three cohorts of students, with up to 10 candidates in each class. Over the course of the 15-week program, students engage in weekly didactic and clinical classes. They learn and practice new skills at Cape Fear Valley Health’s facilities and prepare for the NA II test. After completing the program and earning the certification, staff receive a pay increase and the ability to practice to their full scope as an NA II.
Realizing one approach alone cannot fully address the nursing supply issue, the health system is committed to supporting educational needs both internally and externally. Cape Fear Valley Health encourages its staff to reach for new heights by applying to nursing school. To make this career advancement possible, Cape Fear Valley launched the Pre-Nursing Tuition Payment Program in 2017, which helps employees of Cape Fear Valley Health complete prerequisites in preparation for a nursing degree.
To remove financial obstacles for health workers who want to advance their careers, the health system offers a Nursing Student Training Loan Program, as well as scholarships for students who enroll in local nursing degree programs. These scholarships open doors to students who may not otherwise be able to afford to complete their nursing degree. With Cape Fear Valley Health’s nursing scholarships, students have the chance to advance their career and enjoy competitive employment packages, while the health system strategically increases the number of skilled nurses to fill open positions.
Nursing students who can commit to working for Cape Fear Valley Health after graduation have the chance to graduate debt-free. Cape Fear Valley Health’s nursing scholarships cover the cost of tuition and books for students pursuing a two-year associate degree or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Students can work toward their associate’s degree in nursing at either Fayetteville Technical Community College or Bladen Community College, and those pursuing a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing enroll at Fayetteville State University. In exchange for the scholarship funding, students agree to accept a paid nursing position at Cape Fear Valley Health after graduation for a period of one to three years, depending on the length and amount of scholarship funding.
Students present their invoices for tuition and books to the health system, which in turn pays the fees directly to the educational institution. The scholarships are disbursed on a semester-by-semester basis, and range anywhere from $7,000.00 up to a total of $15,000 toward the cost of a full degree program. Students must maintain their grades to be eligible for renewal of their scholarship. If needed, they have access to a support system at Cape Fear Valley Health to help them clear any obstacles to finishing their degree. Nearly all Cape Fear Valley Health scholarship recipients ultimately graduate.
Scholarship recipients who are already employed at Cape Fear Valley Health enjoy the flexibility of adapting their work schedule around their class schedule. Students who are not already working at Cape Fear Valley Health can also apply for a nursing scholarship, provided they are willing to commit to working for the health system after graduation.
Cape Fear is currently exploring different options to increase the career path opportunities for its employees and the community. In the near future, the hospital aims to have its own NA I program, modeled after the NA II Bridge program. This program would provide an opportunity for anyone in the healthcare system to move into a direct patient care position and start their journey to becoming a Registered Nurse.
If you wish to receive additional information, apply for scholarships, or receive information on other career programs offered by Cape Fear Valley Health, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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