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Delta State School of Nursing to address state nursing shortage

By September 28, 2006General

The Dreyfus Health Foundation is one of 10 selected for nationwide program


Two-year program will be implemented in partnership with Delta State University School of Nursing.


The Dreyfus Health Foundation has been selected as one of 10 foundations nationwide to participate in Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN), a new national initiative to develop and test solutions to America’s nursing shortage. The Mississippi Delta initiative is a collaborative effort with the Delta State University School of Nursing and will use DHF’s Problem Solving for Better Health’s methodology to increase completion of the Bachelor of Science program, increase first-write success on state board exams, and to retain nursing talent in the Mississippi Delta region. 

Led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation, the national program encourages local foundations to act as catalysts in developing grassroots strategies to establish a stable, adequate nursing workforce. To help develop solutions and lead efforts within the region, the Dreyfus Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have allotted funding for a two-year grant in the amount of $222,538.

“The Dreyfus Health Foundation is thrilled to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to address the dire shortage of nursing talent in the Mississippi Delta,” said Pamela Hoyt, International Nursing Coordinator for the Dreyfus Health Foundation. “PIN’s mission combined with DHF’s Problem Solving for Better Health methodology allows faculty and students to ‘think outside the box’ in regards to tools that can be used for success in college and retention of a qualified nursing workforce in the Delta.”

The matching funds from PIN allow DHF and DSU to implement a program that strengthens existing efforts to develop and retain a diverse nursing workforce in the Mississippi Delta.

Lizabeth L. Carlson, D.N.S., R.N.C, Dean and Associate Professor of Nursing at Delta State University School of Nursing, will be the project director.

“By utilizing the Problem Solving for Better Health methodology in collaboration with Delta State University’s School of Nursing, we hope not only to increase the overall success rate of students in the nursing program, but also mentor ‘at-risk’ students so that they are able to pass the NCLEX-RN exam on the first attempt,” said Carlson. “More importantly, we hope to glean commitments from the DSU School of Nursing graduates to remain in the Mississippi Delta to work for a minimum of three years.

“In addition to our goals of success and retention, we will address issues of cultural diversity and awareness as well as establish a student mentoring program in conjunction with the Eliza Pillars Registered Nurses of Mississippi,” added Carlson. “We feel that it’s important that students better understand and appreciate what is offered in terms of quality of life and healthcare opportunities in the Mississippi Delta.”

Organizations selected for the PIN program are exploring an array of initiatives that meet their community’s specific needs, including recruiting and retaining nursing faculty, developing new roles for nurses in the care setting, and empowering nurses to better assume leadership roles. Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future is a five-year, $10 million initiative.

“Nurses are the cornerstone of our healthcare system and want nothing more than to provide safe and compassionate care for their patients in supportive and efficient work environments,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This unique program brings foundations together to learn from each other and engage others as they address a very serious problem in their communities.

“This partnership of the philanthropic community provides an opportunity to foster innovations that will help address the nursing crisis beyond just what any one foundation can do.”

According to the Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce, the 2005 Mississippi Delta RN vacancy rate was 23.4% with a projected increase in demand of 7.6% over the next two years. Across America, patients rely on nurses for personal, quality care delivered in their own communities — which is threatened when there is a nursing shortage. In fact, the nursing shortage has become so severe in some communities that it is affecting patient care and safety, health care costs, and patient outcomes. Experts say the causes of the nursing shortage are complex and range from rapid population growth in several states, to an aging nurse workforce and poor working conditions.

“As nursing shortages vary across communities, so must the solutions — that’s why a range of programs is being explored through this program,” said Judith Woodruff, J.D., director of strategic initiatives of NWHF and PIN program director. “We are pleased to offer this grant to the Dreyfus Health Foundation which — along with the Delta State University School of Nursing — is well-qualified to explore solutions for the people of the Mississippi Delta. One size won’t fit all, and we need solutions that will work close to home.”

For more information about Problem Solving For Better Health, visit Information about Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future is available at




The Dreyfus Health Foundation is a non-profit organization founded over 30 years ago as the Dreyfus Medical Foundation by Jack Dreyfus, founder of Dreyfus & Co. and the Dreyfus Fund. Part of the Rogosin Institute, an affiliate of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, DHF’s Problem Solving for Better Health and Problem Solving for Better Health – Nursing programs are in place in under-served areas in 32 countries around the world. The Dreyfus Health Foundation’s PSBH program was established in 1989 by Director Dr. Barry Smith, M.D., Ph.D, with one goal in mind — that of generating action in order to improve health. DHF’s mission states that answers to health and quality of life issues can be found locally, by people in the community looking within, rather than simply waiting for help from outside sources. The foundation understands that the people within communities can best determine what their needs are. Visit

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. See

Founded in 1997, the Northwest Health Foundation is an independent, charitable foundation committed to advancing, supporting and promoting the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington. The Foundation focuses on issues of health and health care, seeking concrete solutions to today’s health problems while advocating to prevent tomorrow’s. As part of NWHF’s commitment to cultivate a stable, skilled nursing workforce in the region, the Foundation invests 30 percent of available funds in collaborative and sustainable solutions, including the development of advocacy and leadership within the nursing community. See