Ascension has pledged $3 million to support a new online Acute Care Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Program within the Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America. Ascension is one of the nation’s leading Catholic and nonprofit health systems.

Over the next 40 years, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is predicted to double; while the population over the age of 85 — who require the most acute care — is projected to quadruple, according to a report from the Urban Institute. Medical professionals who serve these populations are critically needed, and Catholic University is committed to building a graduate program to educate the next generation of highly qualified, faithful, and supportive geriatric nurse practitioners.

“The field of nursing is seeing a surge of needs focused on specialized medicine,” said Joseph Impicciche, Ascension president and CEO and University Trustee.

“Catholic University is leading the way when it comes to educating the best, most-qualified nurse practitioners in the country, and Ascension is pleased to be able to invest in the education of the kinds of nurses that are most needed today, and for the future.”

— Joseph Impicciche, Ascension president and CEO and University Trustee

This year, U.S. News and World Report recognized the Conway School of Nursing for having one of the nation’s best online programs; the school’s online graduate nursing program was ranked fifth among nursing programs across the country.

Thanks to this gift from Ascension, the Conway School of Nursing will now expand its online offerings to include an Acute Care Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Program. This funding will help with programmatic expenses, such as curriculum development, student recruitment, and marketing.

In addition, this gift will support two full-time faculty positions and a full-time staff position for the program over the next 14 years. This is critically important to the program’s success, as nursing faculty shortages across the country have impacted the number of qualified nurses currently in the workforce. In 2019, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The need for geriatric nurse practitioners was brought into sharp focus due to the dramatic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s aging population. This new program will enable Catholic University to produce the best acute care geriatric nurse practitioners, who will then provide needed support to patients across the country.

“The Conway School of Nursing is ready to act. We will use our top-ranked, nationally recognized online nurse practitioner program to educate outstanding acute care adult and geriatric nurse practitioners,” said Patricia McMullen, dean of the Conway School of Nursing. “These graduates will, in turn, help to address the tremendous need for advanced practice nurses working in hospitals to care for adult and geriatric patients with acute and chronic illnesses, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and to address future pandemics, all with a holistic perspective.”