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University System of Maryland Hagerstown

New Healthcare Programs to Be Offered at USMH in 2018, 2019

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HAGERSTOWN—Two announcements were made during the recent Feaste at Yuletide gala scholarship fundraiser for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown that will have a long-term impact on higher education and healthcare in the region.

Dr. Tom Bowling, interim president of Frostburg State University (FSU), announced that steps are being taken to begin a nurse practitioner program in the fall of 2018, with a physician assistant program to follow in the fall of 2019.  Both of these programs will be offered solely at USMH.

William Young, executive director of the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Foundation, then revealed that the Fletcher Foundation will issue a challenge grant to fund a new endowed scholarship for students enrolled in these two advanced practice programs at USMH with a goal of raising an initial $450,000. “For every dollar that the loyal supporters contribute to this new scholarship program, the Fletcher Foundation will contribute two dollars for a maximum contribution by the Foundation of $300,000,” Young announced.

According to Bowling, current educational opportunities are not adequate to accommodate the number of students necessary to graduate and meet the workforce demands for these professionals. “All of us see an increasing number of PAs and NPs each time we visit our physicians, clinics and hospitals,” said Bowling.  “In fact, it is predicted that by the early 2020s, we will need as many of these advanced practice professionals as we need physicians.” Further, Bowling said that student interest in the programs is high. “FSU faculty and administrators visiting neighboring PA programs discovered that 1,000 applications were received for 80 openings at one institution and 600 applications for 80 spots at another,” he explained.

Both organizations recognize the need to meet the healthcare and workforce demands of our region. “In rural parts of western Maryland, these professionals will increasingly become the most important and likely providers of health care,”  said Bowling.

“The directors of the Fletcher Foundation are supporting this program because it directly affects the health and well-being of every citizen in our community. And, to ensure that those we educate stay here, those receiving scholarship awards will be obligated to practice in Washington County for a required number of years,” Young said.

USMH Executive Director Mark Halsey said, “We are very grateful to the Fletcher Foundation, and we have confidence that our new Campaign for Advanced Practice Scholarships, in partnership with the Foundation’s two-to-one challenge grant, is a great strategy for creating a successful endowment. These scholarships will help students to attain their career goals while meeting the future healthcare needs of our community and the surrounding region.”

For more information about the Campaign for Advanced Practice Scholarships or to make a donation, please contact Erin Harman, Director of Advancement and Outreach, USMH, eharman@hagerstown.usmd.edu; 240-527-2728.