NORTH ADAMS — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal joined Massachusetts Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) President James Birge, and Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) President and CEO Darlene Rodowicz to announce a $620,000 earmark to establish a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program at MCLA.
The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022.
“It is no coincidence that Massachusetts has the stellar reputation it does when it comes to its healthcare system. We are fortunate to live in a Commonwealth that is home to institutions like MCLA and BHS, who are committed to training the next generation of healthcare workers,” Neal said. “There is a great need for skilled labor in the healthcare sector, particularly in Berkshire County. By partnering with BHS, students at MCLA will be exposed to real-world experience that will ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to secure employment immediately upon graduation.”
Birge added that “we are excited to officially announce our bachelor of science in nursing degree, the first such four-year program in the region. Students graduating from this program will be able to immediately transition into a well-paying job, and the community will benefit from a cohort of nurses trained in the liberal-arts tradition. There is a great demand for nurses in Berkshire County, and we look forward to helping meet this significant need right here in our community.”
With this funding, MCLA will create a four-year BSN program, the first of its kind in the region, and a degree offering that is in direct response to the demands of the regional economy. The Berkshire Regional Planning Blueprint identified healthcare as one of the largest and fastest-growing fields, with healthcare and social assistance collectively accounting for 13,500 jobs in Berkshire County. As these numbers continue to rise alongside demand, the BSN program at MCLA will directly address the needs of the rural healthcare industry in Berkshire County and beyond.
“Educational programs like this one at MCLA are critical to helping build the workforce that cares for our community,” Rodowicz said. “We are proud that we have been able to partner with MCLA to help expand our region’s offerings for educating and training the next generation of compassionate, skilled healthcare professionals.”