Bill alters regulations for nursing scholarship

Residents could use aid in out-of-state programs

General Assembly

March 25, 2004|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

A bill introduced yesterday in the Maryland General Assembly seeks to help some of the hundreds of nursing students turned away from Maryland schools each year by allowing them to use a state scholarship at out-of-state schools.

Rising interest in nursing careers has overwhelmed four-year schools and community colleges. School officials say they must turn away more than 400 applicants a year, largely because of a shortage of nursing faculty and limited clinical space.

"We've done an excellent job of recruiting people to go into nursing," said Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, a Baltimore County Democrat who introduced the bill. "Now we're telling them, `We're glad you came, but we can't take you.'"

The bill would change the regulations for a state nursing scholarship program. Qualified students who can show they were rejected from a Maryland school because of a lack of space would be eligible for the scholarship -- an award of up to $4,500 per year -- and would be allowed to take it to a school in another state.

Like in-state students, they would then be asked to work as a nurse in Maryland when they complete their education.

"What we're saying is, we don't want to lose these nurses," Hollinger said, noting that for some students, a school in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., or West Virginia is a nearby alternative. Others may choose to go farther from home.

"Maryland has had a history of collaboration with other states to provide programs that we don't have," said Dawn Marks, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Hospital Association.

Marks said that a recent $1.5 million federal grant is one example of the steps Maryland is taking to deal with shortages of health care workers.

Assembly action

VOTING MACHINES: The Senate approved yesterday a version of a Baltimore City elections bill that stripped out a provision that would have let Baltimore keep its current voting machines while the state adopts touch-screen machines. An amendment cut the cost to the city by letting it provide one machine per 400 voters at a polling place rather than one per 200 as provided in a previous statewide voting system law.

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