Marching into year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing's stressors are stuck on repeat:

staffing shortages, burnout-fueled attrition, too many soon-to-retire nursing professors, and too few clinical practice sites push against the perennial crush of interest from prospective nursing students who are repeatedly turned away from U.S. nursing schools the profession (80,000 in 2020, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports)—and jobs where they’re needed and can make a difference.

With their most recent gift, the Conways' total support of UVA School of Nursing

The persistent clog in the pipeline is clear: too few teachers and too little space at the nation’s roughly 800 nursing programs. It’s also clear that attracting more students to doctoral programs and, ultimately, to the head of nursing classrooms is a key part of the solution.

It's why a new $14 million commitment from longtime benefactors Joanne and Bill Conway of Washington, D.C., is such welcome news. Providing at least 175 need- and eligibility-based scholarships to cover tuition, school fees, room and board, and books, the gift specifically supports CNL students, who come to nursing from a profession outside of healthcare, and PhD students planning for careers in academia.

"Our goal of supporting the School of Nursing is two-fold,” said Bill Conway. “To enable greater access to a quality education and address the critical nursing shortage."

The new gift is just the latest example of the couple’s strategy to mark those goals. Their previous contributions to the School enhanced RN to BSN program access by establishing satellite sites in Richmond and Northern Virginia, expanded simulation learning space, funded a flexible pool of scholarships, and fueled growth the CNL program’s growth.

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