NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The pandemic exasperated the existing nurse shortage, but now, local universities are banding together to help.

Yale New Haven Health is partnering with Fairfield University, Gateway Community College, Quinnipiac University and Southern Connecticut State University to bring more professionals to the field.

“We’ve always partnered in different ways, and so the idea of, could we, in short order, expand the capabilities of some of our schools to bring in more students, which, in turn, will get us more nurses on the other end,” said Ena Williams the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Yale New Haven Hospital.

The idea is to have hospital staff serve as faulty, with the partnership aiming to have at least 500 new graduates within the next five years.

“We’re also providing a lot more innovative clinical placements, and listening deeply to some of the students,” said Judith Hahn, the executive director of nursing professional practice at Yale New Haven Hospital. “We’re also providing a lot more innovative clinical placements, and listening deeply to some of the students. If we can subsidize some small scholarships to help them defray some of the costs, it’s very helpful.”

Over the next four years, Yale New Haven Health is committing about $1.7 million to provide scholarships and books to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to attend school.