(Posted March 1, 2024)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Across the nation, hospitals, health systems, and medical offices are experiencing a shortage of nurses, and the numbers in Pennsylvania are among the highest. According to a November 2022 study by The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the vacancy rate for nursing positions increased to 30%. There are simply not enough nurses to fill the jobs that exist in Pennsylvania.  

Dan Sunderland ’88 and his wife Kerry have generously pledged $1 million toward strengthening Juniata College’s commitment to educating and preparing students for careers in the health professions. Their philanthropy will support a feasibility study to determine the viability of a future nursing program at Juniata College. Preliminary analysis by Juniata suggests that a nursing program could help address regional health care shortages and recruit new students to the college. 

“I am proud to support Juniata College as it develops the academic curriculum and infrastructure necessary for building future generations of health care workers,” said Dan Sunderland. “Paving the way for students to learn an important health profession will be instrumental in Juniata’s support of the greater Huntingdon community and surrounding communities.”  

 Juniata College already offers a pre-nursing path that prepares students for nursing school. In addition, the college’s health professions director provides students with one-on-one advising to assist students with course selection and the application process. The exploration of nursing is an extension of an existing academic focus on preparing future health care professionals.  

“I am grateful to Dan and Kerry Sunderland for their generous support of our vision that will provide students with the education to prepare for careers in health care. This focus serves the needs of the region and strengthens Juniata. I am excited by the potential a nursing program provides Juniata,” said Lauren Bowen, Ph.D., acting president and provost at Juniata College.  

To help lead the feasibility study, Juniata College is working with Jaime Sinutko, RN, Ph.D., who is currently nursing faculty in Michigan and helped launch several BSN nursing programs around the country. She will research accreditation, develop the curriculum, and identify possible clinical partners.  

"Nurses need to be equipped with the advanced skills and knowledge necessary to meet the evolving and complex health care needs in all our communities,” said Sinutko. “Through collaborative efforts between academia, health care institutions, policymakers, and funders, we can strengthen the foundation of our health care workforce." 

Over the coming months, Juniata College will finalize the curriculum, and then pursue approvals from the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing and Middles States Commission on Higher Education.  

For information about the nursing feasibility study at Juniata College, email nursing@juniata.edu. Learn more about pre-nursing education at Juniata College at www.juniata.edu/prenursing.  

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.