UNC undergraduate nursing student Joe Jones, who works at UNC Health, said he has seen the consequences of the nationwide COVID-19-induced nursing shortage first-hand.
At every shift there are over 30 nursing vacancies, he said.
The nursing shortage has also limited the number of available hospital rooms, meaning individuals who need care might not receive it, doctor of nursing practice student Sarah Nicolsaid.
To help combat this issue, Joanne and William E. Conway Jr. donated $5 million to UNC’s School of Nursing earlier this month – making it the largest gift in the school’s history in support of students.
Aimed at supporting students and educators, this donation and the Conways’ Bedford Falls Foundation will help to alleviate the current nursing shortage in North Carolina by by funding student scholarships and the Conway Scholars Program.
“This $5 million is going to help the future of nursing with supporting educators and the school as a whole,” Nicol said.
The nursing shortage, Nicol said, stemmed from the burnout of frontline workers at the height of the pandemic and the natural aging of individuals in the profession, which has created an environment where funding like this is critical.
“The timing of this is great because the idea of having a new building and money toward things that can help future nursing students puts a positive light on the nursing profession,” Nicol said.
With a new building and increased funds, the school plans to increase enrollment by up to 50 percent as well as inspire individuals to enter the field, according to a press release.