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New partnership between Harrisburg University and UPMC hopes to ease region's nursing shortage

The Shadyside School of Nursing will help bring more healthcare workers to the region through an affordable, accelerated program.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Nationwide, our healthcare industry is suffering from a severe shortage of nurses and doctors.

It’s the same story in central Pennsylvania.

“A lot of nurses are exhausted," said Penny Lenig-Zerby, director of UPMC Shadyside at UPMC Harrisburg School of Nursing. "There’s incentives and there’s things we’re trying to keep people motivated. People from administration are going back to the bedside.”

In an effort to help, UPMC is now teaming up with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to open the Shadyside School of Nursing.

“This is a really special career, and this is a really special way that we think in the combination of HU and UPMC that we’re going to be able to create nurses for the future here in central PA,” said Luanne Reese, executive director of strategic healthcare initiatives at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

Starting this fall, students will take part in an accelerated 16-month nursing program.

They’ll take classes with both UPMC and Harrisburg University faculty and complete over 900 hours of clinical rotations at UPMC hospitals in Harrisburg and throughout the region.

“Then they have the opportunity to come back and get their advanced degrees here at HU at a place they’re familiar with,” explained Reese.

Reese says the university is actually seeing more students express interest in entering the healthcare field.

That’s something that gives those like Lenig-Zerby, who are already in the industry, hope.

“I think some people are really up for the challenge,” said Lenig-Zerby. “With the pandemic, the shortage, I think people are really excited to be part of the solution.”

Both women say the Shadyside School of Nursing will provide a direct pipeline of nurses into hospitals across central Pennsylvania.

“We are offering you an opportunity of 16 months to change your life and the opportunity to change other people’s lives and that’s awesome,” said Lenig-Zerby. “That’s an awesome responsibility.”

 You can learn more about the Shadyside School of Nursing on the UPMC website.

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