Pennsylvania nurses are among the frontline workers and first responders who were cheered on by their communities at the beginning of the statewide shutdown. But they were showing signs of burnout long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. That’s why Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery, a registered nurse, spearheaded the COVID-19 Nursing Workforce Initiative, a plan to use $6.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support and retain nurses across the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which administers financial aid programs, will create and manage the loan forgiveness program. When it launches, eligible nurses — Pennsylvania residents who are licensed through the Department of State and began working at a qualifying facility before Dec. 31, 2021 — can apply for up to $7,500 in assistance to reduce outstanding loan debt, with a cap of $2,500 per year for three years. The Department of Labor and Industry will operate the apprenticeship and partnership program to showcase new career opportunities in the nursing field. At least one new apprenticeship and one new industry partnership will target underrepresented populations.