UH Scholars Program creates a progressive career opportunity for nursing students


A desk in Kent State’s College of Nursing.

Jessica Skitzki

Current and incoming nursing students can now excel in their career field while simultaneously finishing their degree.

University Hospitals will  now be providing financial support for 20 students to finish their senior year at Kent State in return for two years of employment at University Hospitals upon graduation.

 Kent State and University Hospitals teamed up to initiate a program, the UH Scholars Program, in addition to increasing the acceptance rate. This will bring  an additional 80 students will advance into the nursing program every academic year.

“UH is creating a path for lifelong success through the UH Scholars Program. To create this great experience for the new nurse is going to impact their career for the next 30 years,” said Julia Mason, the chief nursing officer at UH Parma Medical Center. “I am proud to say I work at UH.”

To be considered as one of the 20 students, an application and all non-senior level coursework must be completed. Barbara Broome, the dean of the College of Nursing, said the application process is simple and designed to find students worthy of the opportunity.

“[UH Scholars Program] has a dual purpose: it is replacing the need for nurses that UH has and offsetting the cost for that student. But those nursing students who are doing their time at UH are going to know the system and be well prepared, so it’s going to decrease the amount of time it takes for that nurse to get up to speed with the [UH] policies,” Broome said.  

Mason emphasized the release of pressure for students to find a job so all they need to focus on is school and studying for their boards.

“It’s a great opportunity for those students because if they are potentially hired by the hospital, they already know the hospital well, so the orientation period for the Kent State students going through UH clinicals will be less pressure,” said Kathleen Norman, the marketing, communications and public relations director for the College of Nursing.

The nursing program allows a limited number of students into the program each year. The average graduating nursing class is 443, but the additional enrollment will increase to over 500 graduating nurses per year. Broome said the reason for the narrow selection is due to the limited spots available for clinicals.

“There are 27 other academics programs that produce nursing students,” Broome said. “We are all looking at the same clinical sites so there’s a limited number.” 

The upcoming fall semester will be the first class to graduate UH Scholars.

Applications will open in May for those finishing their junior semester. It is available for any nursing students to apply, including students from regional campuses.

“I can hire anybody, but what we are looking for are students who are caring and compassionate, an essential for nursing, hard-working and committed to the process,” Mason said.

The partnership with Kent State and UH is not a newly formed relationship. The two institutions have worked together for years, and UH Scholars is just one result. All of Kent’s required clinical experiences are taught at University Hospitals facilities throughout Northeast Ohio.

An influx of nursing students will be welcomed, as over the past several years UH and Kent State have both experienced a shortage of nurses and nursing students.

Broome proposes several reasons for this shortage. Financial barriers present an obstacle for anyone considering a four-year program, while the quantity of nurses that make up the baby boomer generation are at retirement age. Due to the advances in modern medicine and healthcare technology, nursing involves more complexity of care and more nurses to provide the appropriate amount of care.

UH wants to address this issue by serving the communities it aids through education.

“We want to recruit people from our own backyard that know about the great care we deliver,” Mason said.  

UH hopes the two-year employment agreement will result in an incentive to stay in the Northeast Ohio area.

“We want people to stay in the community, so that’s why we’re asking them to commit to UH and commit to the community,” said Kim Shelnick, the vice president of talent acquisition at UH of Cleveland.

Similar programs have already launched at Northeast Ohio schools like Cleveland State and Cuyahoga Community College. UH hopes that the future holds opportunities to expand the program so more colleges can offer it.

Jessica Skitzki covers health and fitness. Contact her at [email protected].