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Myrna Buiser's reason for entering the Nursing School's new Hospital Nurse Scholars Program was simple. "I knew that once I graduated I'd have a job waiting for me with a good salary," she said. Buiser, a freshman, is a participant in a new program between her school and Graduate Hospital in Center City -- a program which guarantees her a job at the hospital after graduation, and guarantees the hospital a supply of much-needed nurses. Graduate Hospital has pledged to pay 60 percent tuition for each student in the program -- eight will be selected each year for the next four years -- on the condition that they work there for two years following graduation. The project involves a $1.4 million commitment from the Graduate Hospital, and a sizeable time commitment from the staff of the school to put it together. In fact, some Nursing School administrators said they were surprised that the project started as quickly as it did. "Our plan was not to start this year," said Claire Fagin, dean of the Nursing School. "But Graduate wanted it." Fagin was the architect of the program, which she began to develop after learning about a similar project at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "I thought [the Case Western program] would wipe out our freshman class," she said. "I had to have the same program here. I had to." Fagin met with several local hospital presidents and began negotiations. Fagin said that the University's program will be more applicable to other nursing schools than Case Western's. Case Western did not have a nursing program until Cleveland hospitals, in desperate need of nurses, asked officials to start one. All students in that nursing program receive tuition supplements. "I think ours is actually a model," Fagin said. Students were selected for the program after they were admitted to the University, and through a separate application. "It was leadership, background in health care, and academic qualifications," said Elizabeth Roach, assistant director for admissions for the school. "A willingness to pursue the next six years in Philadelphia" was also critical. Officials and students said the program benefits participants on both sides. "It will provide financial aid for undergraduate students and it will increase our applicant pools," said Director of Development and Alumni Relations Bonnie Devlin. "It helps us deal with the high cost of tuition in a creative way," she said. But there are other benefits besides the obvious financial advantages. "The students will begin to feel very desired by the world and these institutions," Fagin said, referring to the hospitals in which they are placed. Elizabeth Montgomery, a freshman, said she was excited about both the program and the commitment after graduation. "Because Grad is a very good hospital, it seems like a very good thing not to pass up," she said. Carol Hutelmyer, Health System vice president for patient services at Graduate Hospital, said that the hospital will also benefit. "When we considered our recruitment needs and compared them to the supply of nurses that will be available in the future, we decided to lock in," she said.

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