Massachusetts needs more people graduating from nursing programs to overcome staffing shortages, but with a lack of instructors, schools and hospital clinical instruction programs have had to limit the number of students they can accept each year.

To address this, the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $78 million dollars in grants to help fund nurse training programs in 17 states throughout the country. The MGH Institute of Health Professions received nearly $6 million of this to partner with the larger Mass General Brigham Health System.

Within the next ten years, a million nurses will leave the field from either burnout or retirement, making it crucial to increase the number of nurses, said Paula Milone-Nuzzo, president of the MGH Institute of Health Professions.

"Becoming a nursing faculty member requires a higher level of education than a bedside nurse," Milone-Nuzzo told Greater Boston. “We need a master’s degree at a minimum and most programs require doctoral preparation in order to teach didactically in the classroom. The other problem is nurses in the hospital make more money than faculty nurses, so deciding on a faculty position is usually one of passion.”

Erin Flanigan, the senior vice president of talent at Mass General Brigham said the grant will ensure more clinical instructors are available to bring new graduates into the profession.

“Part of what we saw during the pandemic was burnout. People opted out of health care as a career," said Flanigan. "Attracting more people into the healthcare industry requires a supportive environment to retain nurses, focusing on career mobility, the right culture of mobility, and continuous development and learning."

A recent survey by the Massachusetts Nurses Association pointed to burnout and unsafe conditions as the primary reason nurses left the profession. Sixty-seven percent of nurses who left the field within two years were newer nurses who opted for work outside of the healthcare industry.

The grant will help the nursing profession continue to attract the dedicated professionals needed as patient care grows more complex.

Additionally, Milone-Nuzzo said the grant will help increase diversity: "We are going to work collaboratively with lot s of partners in the community to help us increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups and bring them into health care, that will not only help health care, but will help the education because it will draw the students in."