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National Nursing Association Honors Independence Blue Cross for Nurse Scholars Program

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

National Nursing Association Honors Independence Blue Cross for Nurse Scholars Program

Program provides much-needed funding to address nursing shortage

Philadelphia, PA – November 17, 2006 – AACN honored Independence Blue Cross (IBC) with its “Corporate Citizen Award” in recognition of the company’s innovative program that combats the critical shortage of nurses in southeastern Pennsylvania by providing grants to fund scholarships, internships, and nursing faculty positions. In addition, a coalition of deans and directors of nursing schools in Pennsylvania gave special recognition to IBC for its efforts to improve nursing in the region.

This award, created in 2003, recognizes IBC’s Nurse Scholars Program as an outstanding contribution made by a private company to support professional nursing education, practice, and research.

By the year 2020, there will be more than one million unfilled nursing jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A key factor is a sharp rise in the number of qualified nursing school applicants who were denied admission to nursing schools, according to the AACN. Three out of four schools cite insufficient number of faculty as the primary reason. Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation for projected nursing shortages, and will have an estimated 30 percent gap by 2020 between the number of nurses needed in hospitals and those that are available, according to reports from the PA Health Department and the PA Legislative and Budget Finance Committee.

“An important way we can help ensure that people in the Philadelphia region continue to have access to quality health care is by providing support for our region’s future nurses,” said Stephen Fera, Vice President of IBC’s Government & Social Mission Programs, Fera recently accepted the award in front of more than 300 nursing school deans and other invited guests at AACN’s Fall Semiannual Meeting in Washington, D.C. “We’re extremely proud to be recognized for our Nurse Scholar Program, and for being able to help strengthen our region’s nurse education programs.”

Earlier this year, IBC significantly increased its support of the Nurse Scholars Program by dedicating $9.5 million to the program over a five-year period with its partner, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation. This year, the program will award $1.25 million for about 800 more graduate and undergraduate nursing scholarships.

“We commend Independence Blue Cross for its generosity and desire to improve health care by bolstering the number of well-educated nurses in the Philadelphia region,” said AACN President Dr. Jeanette Lancaster. “AACN applauds this effort which serves as a model for how private industry and nursing education can collaborate to meet the nation’s health care needs and ensure access to nursing care.”

As the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, AACN is using its resources and influence to address the shortage of registered nurses and nurse faculty. The organization advocates for increasing federal funding for nursing education programs while also working to identify strategies for preparing more faculty to teach future generations of nurses.

The Nurse Scholars Program was also the recipient of the America’s Health Insurance Plans Foundation Community Leadership Award in March of this year, and has been presented with numerous awards and recognition such as the National League for Nursing Award for Public Service and the Carl Moore Leadership Award from the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation. The PA Higher Education Nursing Schools Association also recognized IBC at the AACN meeting for its support of nursing education in the Commonwealth.

Since its inception in 2004, the IBC Nurse Scholars program has provided nearly 2,000 scholarships at 27 accredited area nursing programs in southeastern Pennsylvania to support graduate and undergraduate students.


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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for university and four-year-college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 590 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. Web site:

Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For nearly 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered quality health care products and services tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, groups and providers. Visit the IBC web site at



Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231