Amid a shortage of nurses, Hood College is launching a school of health sciences

A student in the Department of Nursing at Hood College, who will be part of the new School of Behavioral and Health Sciences at The Ruth Whitaker Holmes School. (Courtesy of Hood College)

At a time when the demand for nurses and other health professionals is high and only continues to grow, Hood College at Frederick has announced plans to establish a School of Behavioral and Health Sciences, while increasing its footprint in health.

The Ruth Whitaker Holmes School of Behavioral and Health Sciences will be funded by a multimillion-dollar donation by her name, Ruth Whitaker Holmes, a college graduate, a former member of the Hood College Board of Trustees and a retired faculty member at Framingham. State College, Massachusetts. Hood College did not disclose the exact amount of the gift.

The school will host nursing, counseling, psychology, social work, sociology, nutrition and public health programs at the college. A master’s degree in nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in public health are the newest of the programs the college offers, having been launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

Hood’s nursing program has seen great growth in the last eight years, growing from 23 students in 2014 to 149 now, with college management expecting to add another 60 students by the beginning of the fall semester of 2022.

Her master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling is also growing.

“Our goal is to effectively recruit, retain and train a diverse team of professional consultants with experience and commitment to working with vulnerable populations,” Provost Hood Debbie Ricker said in an email. She noted that the program recently received a $ 2.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to promote diversity in the program and in the broad field of counseling.

Hood’s public health program also exceeded projected enrollment targets, “mainly due to the significant impact of the epidemic on public health resources and overall awareness,” she said.

In addition to existing programs, Hood is developing “a series of new undergraduate and graduate programs that will fit the purpose of the school and continue to address the needs of the regional workforce in the health professions extensively,” Ricker said.

The establishment of the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences followed Hod College’s announcement that it would lease space from Frederick Lung, the county’s largest health care provider, to populate its nursing and public health faculties, as well as classroom space for the college’s health programs. And simulation labs for the nursing department. The facility at 700 Tollhouse Road in Frederick is undergoing renovations, with plans for the space to be ready by spring 2023.

Both announcements come as Maryland and the nation are battling a severe and long-term shortage of nurses, mental health professionals and a number of other health care jobs, which are aggravated by attrition caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Instead, both the city of Frederick and the city of Baltimore are considered areas of scarcity in the health professions defined by HRSA,” Ricker said. “Therefore, our program addresses both the general need for additional counselors and the specific needs of rural and / or vulnerable residents, and people who have been particularly affected by drug use. Holmes’ gift, as well as our partnership with Frederick Health, will not only be a makeover for Hood The people our graduates will serve. “

Holmes, along with her husband G. Burt Holmes, too, is donating $ 1 million, in accordance with a $ 1 million grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce’s E-Innovation Fund, to establish a talented deacon for the school. A national search for this position is underway.

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