The University of Massachusetts Boston and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care today announced a partnership to launch a novel program focused on enhancing student success in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Harvard Pilgrim’s Set Sail for Success initiative is a five-year, $500,000 commitment. The program will begin in September with a cohort of 20 first-year students who will be provided with intensive counseling and support from a paid staff advisor dedicated to them. Students will be equipped with tablets preloaded with software designed to facilitate their orientation to the university. Programs to improve writing skills, a medical dictionary, and access to pre-subscribed health care websites will be included. Chat and instant messaging (IM) features will connect the students to each other as they work on course project.
“This program is a true example of a public-private partnership,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “Harvard Pilgrim recognizes the value of investing in our future workforce and of partnering with one of the leading nursing programs in the nation. The Set Sail for Success program should serve as a national model for how the private sector can work with a public university in practical and effective ways to make a real difference.”
“We undertake this partnership with great enthusiasm and determination,” said Harvard Pilgrim President and CEO Eric H. Schultz. “Set Sail for Success will provide tracking tools and coordination for nursing and health sciences students that will be built into their UMass Boston curriculum, but it won’t stop there. This is not a hands-off arrangement for us. We are going to roll up our sleeves and become engaged with the UMass Boston community through a guest lecture series and a mentoring program. We will track our success and report it out over time.”
Students in the program will be required to take a one-credit course designed to help them successfully transition to college and health care. Through the course, they will attend community lectures by Harvard Pilgrim staff and other experts in the field. Paid peer mentors who are successful upperclassmen in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences will provide a resource to the students as will Harvard Pilgrim employees who will serve as volunteer mentors.
The first year of college can be the most challenging, and it is the period that sees the greatest attrition of students from the nursing and health sciences programs. Statistics from UMass Boston’s Office of Institutional Research and Policy studies, however, show that students who continue into the second year on track in terms of credits and grade point average are far more likely to graduate in a timely manner than are students who are not on track.
“What this partnership will create is a program that not only welcomes students but also provides them clear pathways to degree completion and professional success,” said Motley.
“We are betting that Set Sail for Success is going to make a difference,” said Schultz. “We are excited to get started. We look forward to working with these future nurses and health care professionals.”