Flynn Foundation Seeks to Address Workforce Training Void at Hospitals By Creating Opportunities for More Oncology and Palliative Care Nurses
STAMFORD, CT (July 31, 2023) — The Susan D. Flynn Oncology Nursing Development Program today announced that it is changing its name to the Flynn Foundation — a move that reflects its expanded mission of improving the future quality of care for cancer patients and their families.
The change comes as the Foundation celebrates 10 years of partnering with several of the nation’s leading hospitals and nursing schools to help address the critical shortage of well-trained oncology nurses. During its first decade, 300 aspiring oncology nurses have participated in its signature Flynn Oncology Nursing Fellowship program —250 of whom are already in the workforce. Of that number, more than 165 are working as oncology nurses.
Now, as it looks ahead, the Foundation plans to broaden its scope to include training for those interested in pursuing careers in Palliative Care and providing additional continuing education for its Flynn Fellows.
“We are incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished with our program partners during our first 10 years — and we are excited to begin our second decade with a new name, an expanded scope and a growing list of hospital and nursing school program partners,” said Fred Flynn, the foundation’s founder and President.
Flynn created the program in 2014, inspired by the Palliative Care staff at Greenwich Hospital who managed the care of his late wife, Susan, during the last few weeks of her life in 2013.
Since then, the program has built partnerships with 15 leading hospitals and more than 40 of the country’s undergraduate nursing schools — creating a valuable pipeline of talent for U.S. hospitals and an exciting and rewarding career pathway for nursing students. Its 2023 class of Flynn Fellows included 37 nursing students — a record total for the growing program.
“Before Fred started this program, student nurses typically didn’t get an introduction to oncology, let alone palliative care, until after they graduated,” said Dr. Donna Coletti, founding Medical Director of Palliative Care at Connecticut’s Greenwich Hospital. “This fellowship program has pushed the oncology nursing specialty to the forefront of undergraduate training so that students have this as an option much earlier in their careers.”
The Foundation’s Oncology Nursing Fellowship program provides participants with a rich academic curriculum and extensive clinical exposure under the tutelage of experienced nurses preceptors — including expert training in compassionate care and evidence-based research.
To broaden its involvement in nursing education, the Foundation developed a partnership with Jonas Philanthropies in 2019 to support a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program for Flynn Fellowship grads. That program has already awarded nearly $400,000 in scholarships to 15 Flynn Fellows and has significant expansion potential.
“Fred’s vision and support of oncology nursing at the doctoral level is critical to the support of developing practitioners who are prepared at the highest level. These individuals will contribute to the research, practice, and developments within oncology nursing at a national and global level,” said Lendri Purcell, Co-President of Jonas Philanthropies.
More recently, the Foundation piloted a new Palliative Care Fellowship program at HopeHealth in Providence, RI, with the goal of expanding opportunities in this important specialty.
“The more we can educate and inspire future nurses about palliative care, the better quality of life we can give to a growing population of patients,” said HopeHealth President & CEO Diana Franchitto. “As medical advances enable more and more patients to live with serious illness, the field of palliative care is rapidly expanding and the need for nurses with palliative care experience is expanding along with it. Our partnership with the Flynn Foundation is an ideal vehicle to help address this need.”
With its name change and expanded mission, the Flynn Foundation aims to grow its programs even further by providing support to 60 or more Flynn Fellows annually by 2028 — including at least 10 participants in its new Palliative Care Fellowship program.
It also plans to augment its continuing education programming for Flynn Fellow graduates by expanding the scope of relationships with leading industry organizations.
To get there, Flynn said he aims to raise $1 million by 2026 through partnerships with other leading foundations, corporate donors, program partners and individuals.
“This is an exciting time for the Foundation and for the future of cancer care,” Flynn said. “I’m honored to have been able to carry forward Susan’s memory by helping others who are touched by cancer and by expanding career opportunities for hundreds of nurses who positively impact the lives of cancer patients and their families every day.”
About the Flynn Foundation
The Flynn Foundation’s mission is to attract, inspire, and help professionally develop the next generation of oncology nurses with the goal of improving the future quality of care for cancer patients and their families. Its flagship Oncology Nursing Fellowship program was established in 2014 by Fred Flynn in memory of his late wife Susan, who died of ovarian cancer in 2013.
Since then, 300 aspiring oncology nurses have completed its fellowship program — addressing an important workforce development gap for hospitals, many of which struggle to identify and attract well trained oncology nurses.