Behavioral health professions shortages remain while recent national study shows that 22% of nurses may leave their current positions providing direct patient care in the next year

September 15 2021 – Nurses and behavioral health professionals have been stretched to the limit during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a May 2021 study from McKinsey and Company, “Nursing in 2021: Retaining the healthcare workforce when we need it most,” 22% of nurses in the U.S. may leave their current positions providing direct patient care in the next year. At the same time, the behavioral health profession nationwide shortage has been exacerbated by the pandemic with 30% of psychologists stating they cannot meet the demand from patients according to the American Psychological Association. A bright spot amidst these challenges in Palm Beach County is Palm Health Foundation’s investment in nursing and behavioral health professions scholarship awards, recently providing $424,188 to 62 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate and doctorate programs. Palm Health Foundation has granted more than $3.5 million in nursing scholarships to over 1,000 nursing students for advanced education since its founding in 2001 and recently expanded its scholarships to include the behavioral health field.

The scholars who applied for funding from Palm Health Foundation shared that their deeply personal experiences are the reasons for why they wish to enter or advance in their fields. Some describe saving or losing COVID-19 patients as reasons for their calling. Many tell the stories of family members’ illnesses: a mother with stage 4 liver cancer; a father with a brain tumor; and a brother who committed suicide. Another student described his own challenges living with sickle cell disease. They are a highly diverse group with some students born and raised in Palm Beach County and some natives of Haiti and Jamaica. Others are hoping to serve their community after serving their country as U.S. Army or Navy veterans.

Palm Health Foundation partners with the George Snow Scholarship Fund to administer scholarships to students attending Palm Beach County colleges and universities, including Palm Beach Atlantic University, South University, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College, Barry University and NOVA University. Degrees range from bachelor’s to doctorate, with many seeking to become RNs, family nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurses and social workers. Nursing scholarship funding is provided through Pam Health Foundation’s Nursing Advancement Fund and donor advised funds including the Debra Coffman Howe Nursing Scholarship Fund, the B.J. and Paula Harris Scholarship Fund, Andrew P. Barowsky Scholarship Fund and the Joseph Dolce Surgical Nursing Scholarship Fund. The foundation’s behavioral health professions scholarship funding is provided by the Frances Fisher Scholarship Fund and the John T. Merrell Scholarship Fund.

“A career in healthcare is a calling.” said Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation. “Nurses and behavioral health professionals who have experienced illnesses in their own families, or have been impacted by COVID-19, have deep empathy and compassion that will benefit the physical and brain health of countless patients in Palm Beach County. We are honored to have the opportunity to help them reach their professional goals while advancing our community’s healthcare workforce.”

Palm Health Foundation is recognized by nursing leaders and educators for its dedication to growing and strengthening the nursing workforce in Palm Beach County since its inception in 2001. In addition to nursing scholarships, the foundation has invested more than $10 million in initiatives to build a highly skilled nursing workforce that provides care across all settings and supports optimal health in the community including care transitions and care coordination. In the area of behavioral health, the foundation’s Brain Health Innovation Fund is dedicated to strengthening the local bonds between scientific research, community supports, and quality care to transform brain health in Palm Beach County.

About Palm Health Foundation 
Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County’s community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $85 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit palmhealthfoundation.org or call (561) 833-6333.