Emma Stockley is in her first semester of nursing school at Mount Aloysius College.
“As a nurse, you do your part in society to help. But during the pandemic, this is when you’re needed most,”
After graduation, she’s guaranteed a nursing job with UPMC and will get up to $54,000 in tuition funding.
That’s because she’s in the Future Heroes program a partnership between Mount Aloysius College and UPMC to supply more nurses into the region.
“It’s a win-win. There certainly is a tremendous need for nurses in our community. We really felt strongly that the Mount Aloysius program was a great match for us,” said Jan Fisher, the President of UPMC Altoona & UPMC Bedford.
The tuition funding will come from both institutions.
Mount Aloysius will offer eligible nursing students the Future Heroes scholarship of $6,000 per semester.
UPMC will forgive up to $15,000 of loans while students are still attending classes, then offer up to $15,000 in sign-on bonuses upon hire.
“That is really appealing that I know I’ll have extra help getting through college,” Stockley said.
Nursing students can sign up for a three year commitment with the hospital of their choice: UPMC Altoona, UPMC Bedford, or UPMC Somerset.
“I’ll be able to work at a location close to home, too, because I plan on sticking around here,” continued Stockley.
UPMC officials say the collaboration helps to keep local people working in our area after graduation.
“Then we could have a higher percentage of retention, so when they finish the program, they would be interested in staying in the community. They have three hospitals to pick from,”
Nicole Custer, the Chairperson for The Mount’s nursing department, agrees.
“It’s just a great opportunity for students who are local who would like to stay local after they graduate, serve their communities, and get a little bit of help with finances,” she said.
She says this program came at the right time, as hospitals across the United States are struggling to find nurses.
“We are in the midst of a nursing shortage, as everyone knows. I credit everyone who is even thinking about going into nursing right now because we need you and the hospitals need you.”
The program, which launched in May, is now filled with 70 students with a new term beginning in January.
John McKeegan, the President of Mount Aloysius College, said this program is a way for students to serve their communities.
“If our mission is to respond to community needs with quality programs of education, it’s incumbent on us to work with area employers like UPMC to be able to meet their needs. Because in doing that, we are partnering together to meet the entire community’s needs,”
Officials with The Mount say they’ve seen students have even more of an interest in the nursing field.
“We kind of thought it would be the other way around, but we’re seeing the opposite. Students say, ‘I want to get in there and help. I want to serve the community. I want to be a nurse. I want to help people. Yes, there’s a pandemic going on, but I’m ready to take it on,'” Custer said.
So that they can start a livelihood that will changes lives.
“I will have personal satisfaction knowing that I’m doing my part in making the world a better place and helping in this hard time,”