USJ to Partner with Saint Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital

Partnership to Address Demand for 
Health Care Workers

From left to right: David Shapiro, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, USJ Provost Michelle Kalis, Ph.D., USJ President Rhona Free, Ph.D., Vernette Townsend, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, and Thomas Burke, BPharm, MBA, President

The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) will partner with Saint Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital to address the demand for clinical health care workers in Connecticut. The three institutions will increase the number of USJ students, including those from diverse backgrounds, who are placed in positions at Saint Francis and Mount Sinai and will prioritize seats for Saint Francis and Mount Sinai employees in select USJ programs.

By providing enhanced opportunities for USJ students’ clinical training at Saint Francis and Mount Sinai during their education, the partnership paves a pathway for future employment at both hospitals following graduation. 

USJ Provost Michelle Kalis, Ph.D. said, “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Saint Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital to address the need for health care workers in Connecticut. What makes this partnership truly unique is the close collaboration between the hospitals’ clinical staff and USJ creating stronger connections between the classroom teaching and the clinical experiences.”

“We are grateful to the University of Saint Joseph for their collaboration,” said Vernette Townsend, R.N., Chief Nursing Officer, Saint Francis Hospital. “We know, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, that healthcare has changed, and we are thankful to USJ for providing an avenue to strengthen the workforce in multiple ways. We look forward to having USJ students learning with our walls, providing care, and living our Mission to our community.”

Program highlights include tuition discounts for Saint Francis and Mount Sinai employees, enhanced connections between the hospital’s clinical staff and USJ faculty and mentoring for new nurses and USJ graduate student research projects. 

“We are excited to build our partnership with the University of Saint Joseph,” said Thomas Burke, BPharm, MBA, President, Saint Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital. “This collaboration will enhance the USJ students’ educational and clinical experience, allow our colleagues to further expand their education, and, ultimately, provide our community with continued outstanding care.”

Connecticut’s health care workforce shortage follows the nationwide shortage of clinical health care workers. A variety of factors contribute to the problem, including the lasting effects of working during the pandemic, nurses aging into retirement, compensation issues, and a shortage of college faculty and clinical placements to train the next generation.

USJ’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies offers seven programs that focus on a variety of health studies geared toward improving the wellbeing and health of individuals. Learn more about USJ Health Care programs here. Learn more about Saint Francis Hospital and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital at