The Legacy of PIN: Keeping the Pipeline Flowing

Nov 20, 2014, 4:00 PM, Posted by Bobbie D. Bagley, Paula Smith

Bobbie D. Bagley, MS, RN, MPH, CPH, is director of public health and an instructor in the nursing program at Rivier University. She played a key role in the Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) Pipeline Project. Paula Smith, MBA, is director of the Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center and is in the doctoral program in education, leadership and learning at Rivier University. She oversaw implementation of the Nursing Quest summer camps, the Diverse Nurse Network, and the Minority Nursing Student Support Program components of the Pipeline Project. 

As PIN holds its final national meeting this week, the Human Capital Blog is featuring posts from PIN partners about the program’s legacy of encouraging innovative collaborative responses to challenges facing the nursing workforce in local communities. PIN is an initiative of the Northwest Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

As New Hampshire becomes increasingly diverse, partners in the state have joined together to promote workforce diversity. These are exciting times. Support from RWJF and other funders provided the opportunity to implement the New Hampshire Nursing Diversity Pipeline Project—a partner-driven effort to increase diversity within the nursing workforce as well as nursing faculty. Lead partners included the Endowment for Health, the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs, the BRINGIT!!! Program (Bringing Refugees, Immigrants and Neighbors, Gently Into Tomorrow—an after school enrichment program), and the Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center (AHEC). In addition, this Pipeline Program engaged partners from a variety of organizations in the state, including hospitals, medical practices, youth-serving organizations, middle and high schools, as well as nursing leaders in practice and academia.

In addition, this Pipeline Program engaged partners from a variety of organizations in the state, including hospitals, medical practices, youth-serving organizations, middle and high schools, as well as nursing leaders in practice and academia.

One component of our pipeline included nursing career awareness programs such as the AHEC’s summer camp experiences and BRINGIT’s after school programming that increased awareness of, and experience with, the nursing profession among youth from diverse cultures. Another component of the pipeline provided financial and networking support to individuals of color to earn master’s degrees in nursing and expand the diversity of the teaching workforce within academic nursing programs.

One really exciting outcome of our work on the PIN program was that it served as a foundation to develop capacity among partner organizations. A great example is Rivier University. Representatives from Rivier participated in a number of components of the project, and Rivier was one of two schools to receive funding to support a Nursing Diversity Mini-Project. The mini-projects were inspired by the PIN team from Maine and were aimed at enhancing awareness of nursing school education among diverse students in New Hampshire. Nursing leaders at Rivier have long recognized the importance of a culturally diverse nursing workforce to provide quality, culturally competent patient care. Rivier responded to this call to action through the Mini-Project proposal offered by the PIN program by hosting a nursing school fair in an effort to attract more students of color to pursue careers in nursing. Rivier partnered with the Nashua School District and the Nashua Boys & Girls Club to host an information session at the college for 65 diverse high school students.  

The information session was very successful. A survey of the students revealed that 95 percent of those who completed the survey felt the event helped to increase their awareness of the importance of nursing as a career for minorities, 86 percent strongly agreed that the event helped them to dispel myths about the nursing profession, and 90 percent agreed that the event helped to facilitate the process to plan for successful entry into the nursing program. One student commented that the Rivier Nursing School Fair was one of the best school fair events she had ever attended.

As a result of its participation in the Pipeline project, Rivier University continued to explore avenues to increase its ability to promote a diverse nursing workforce. Success came again for the University when it was awarded a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant. The Rivier Success & Visionary Project (RSVP) application was built upon the nursing school’s traditions and accomplishments, while moving the institution further in the direction of innovative workforce diversity efforts. Rivier’s RSVP is designed to address recruitment, retention and support for underserved racially and ethnically diverse individuals from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds through graduation. The RSVP initiative also seeks to move students through the nursing educational pipeline from associate degree completion to baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses.

Through this grant, Rivier will be able to increase nursing educational opportunities, provide scholarship and stipend support as well as provide pre-entry mentoring activities. Rivier leaders believe these approaches will increase the graduation rates of baccalaureate-prepared nurses, strengthen the cultural competency of the faculty, staff, students and partners to remove institutional barriers that jeopardize the success of prospective and current students of color, and add to a diverse, culturally congruent and competent nursing workforce.

We in New Hampshire are excited to continue expanding our efforts to reduce health disparities by developing a diverse nursing workforce. Through our partnerships and internal organizational commitments, we continue to seek ways to continue what we began through PIN and keep our pipeline flowing!

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.