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Washington Adventist University Lands $1.3 Million Grant

By Liz Anderson

Renee Winkfield, PhD, chair of Washington Adventist University’s department of nursing plans to increase the Takoma Park, Md., nursing school’s graduating class from 30 to 50.

The Edyth T. James Department of Nursing at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., is preparing to expand enrollment, increase faculty, increase scholarships, and purchase the latest patient-simulation technology. All this will be made possible thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the Maryland Hospital Administration made possible by Adventist HealthCare, one of the Columbia Union Conference’s healthcare networks. Washington Adventist University is one of 17 schools receiving grants from the Who Will Care Fund, part of a statewide initiative meant to stave off a serious nursing shortage in Maryland.

Adventist HealthCare donated the first $1 million of the grant to the Who Will Care Fund earmarked for WAU, with the remainder coming from private donors. The grant will be paid out over a five-year period.

With these funds, Renee Winkfield, PhD, chair of the department of nursing, would like to grow the graduating class from 30 students to around 50. The department will address this goal in two ways—retaining students and increasing the number of admissions.

According to Winkfield the discipline’s inherent academic rigor is one reason students leave nursing programs in general. The department will hire qualified peer tutors in an effort to provide adequate academic support outside of the classroom.

Another plan addresses emergency absences from the classroom. “We have a lot of adult students who sometimes have emergencies, and they don’t have anywhere to take their child,” she says. “Students may miss classes as a result, which means they miss valuable information that might affect test performance.” Winkfield wants to add an emergency day care fund to help address this issue.

Because the current faculty count will not handle the projected increase in capacity, Winkfield’s immediate goal is to fill two vacant positions and hire two additional faculty members. 

Junior nursing student Marilyn Montenegro is looking forward to the added benefits that a $1.3 million grant will bring to the nursing department.