NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) – Funding has been earmarked to establish a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at MCLA, announced Thursday by Congressman Richard Neal.

A total of $620,000 will be allocated to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Nursing Program in Partnership with Berkshire Health Systems through Congressionally Direct Spending (CDS) from the Department of Education.

The funding will allow MCLA to create a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, due to the increased demands of the regional economy. According to a news release sent to 22News from Congressman Richard Neal’s office, healthcare is one of the largest and fastest-growing fields. Berkshire County accounts for 13,500 jobs in healthcare and social assistance, which was identified by the Berkshire Regional Planning Blueprint.

The announcement was made Thursday by Congressman Richard Neal along with Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President James Birge, and Berkshire Health Systems President and CEO Darlene Rodowicz.

“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,” said Congressman Neal. “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.”

“Our public higher education system plays a critical role in preparing the future workforce of Massachusetts, which is no better encapsulated than in MCLA’s new nursing program. With this new nursing degree, MCLA will be able to ensure that the bright young students of Berkshire County and the greater region have an opportunity to pursue the nursing education they deserve, at a location they can get to,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “Year after year, MCLA will help prepare the next generation of western Massachusetts nurses—benefitting the school, the community, and the state.”

“We are excited to officially announce our Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree, the first such four-year program in the region,” said MCLA President James F. Birge. “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.”

“Educational programs like this one at MCLA are critical to helping build the workforce that cares for our community,” said Darlene Rodowicz, President and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems. “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.”

Local News

WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in March 1953 providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.