Nurses are a critical part of oncology care, helping patients navigate treatment, manage symptoms and side effects of treatment, and facilitate communication among the entire care team. Nurses form close and lasting bonds with patients and families by providing comfort, information, support, and always advocating for their needs. In order to better reflect the full, diverse community of patients served, Dana-Farber is committed to recruiting and training the best nurses from all backgrounds—enhancing the Institute’s ability to provide exceptional, culturally competent patient care. To help achieve this goal, Institute Trustee Phill Gross and his wife, Elizabeth Cochary Gross, PhD, have made a gift of $3.5 million to two nursing programs at Dana-Farber focused on diversifying and strengthening our nursing talent pipeline. Their generous gift supports The Dana-Farber Campaign’s priority to provide extraordinary care and enhances the Institute’s commitment to increasing the diversity of its workforce.
As a member of The Dana-Farber Campaign Cabinet, Phill attended a cabinet meeting that included a presentation by Anne Gross, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, senior vice president for Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer (no relation), in which she described several ways that the Institute is actively working to mitigate the shortage of registered nurses and increase the diversity of the oncology nursing staff.
“We wanted to give where our investment could have a clear and immediate impact on the scale and, particularly, the diversity of the nursing pipeline,” said Phill and Liz. “Nurses are the linchpin of cancer care, and Dana-Farber’s plans to grow and diversify the nursing staff will help patients today and for years to come. These programs specifically focus on nursing students from diverse backgrounds, which is a key objective for the Institute.”
Of the Grosses’ gift, $2.5 million supports the Newly Licensed Nurse Residency Program, a one-year program that trains newly licensed nurses from diverse backgrounds to become clinical experts through participation in direct care experiences, classroom learning, professional development, and mentorship activities to develop the knowledge and competencies to care for oncology patients. The Grosses’ contribution will increase the number of participants by five per year for each of the next five years and strengthen the pipeline for the future.
The remaining $1 million will expand the Bridge to Nursing Program, a professional pathway to nursing careers for clinical assistants looking to advance themselves professionally by pursuing a degree in nursing during their employment at Dana-Farber. The program offers mentoring, career development, tutoring, and, as needed, financial assistance. The Grosses’ gift will be specifically directed to clinical assistants from underrepresented groups.
“Oncology nursing is a highly specialized profession,” said Anne Gross. “Growing our pipeline of skilled nurses from all backgrounds is key to maintaining and improving the level of compassionate, personalized, and expert care for all who seek it. I am so grateful to Phill and Liz for their generous investment in our nurses.”
“Over the years, Phill and Liz’s support for Dana-Farber has touched so many aspects of our work—from their investments in basic and translational research, to funding for fellowships, to our emergency response to the pandemic, and now to our acclaimed nursing program,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, Dana-Farber president and CEO and the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine. “We are truly fortunate for their partnership.”