A Solid Foundation for Supporting Future Nurses

Appeared in: Sutter Health Report to our Communities 2009

California faces a serious nursing shortage, with experts predicting a shortfall of 108,000 nurses by the year 2020. In response, Sutter Health continues to collaborate with community and educational partners to help recruit, train and retain talented nurses.

A long-time valued partner-the Bernard Osher Foundation-provided a $1 million grant to Sutter-affiliated Samuel Merritt University (SMU) in 2009 to fund scholarships for undergraduate nursing students. The generous grant enables SMU to establish an endowed scholarship fund that each year benefits more than 10 students who demonstrate academic promise, but lack the means to pay full tuition. Through the scholarships, these students will receive at least $50,000 per academic year.

The funds particularly help older and reentry nursing students, says Andy Lynch, program officer for The Bernard Osher Foundation. "These students often have more family and financial obligations than younger students-and reentry students typically receive less financial aid support."

The Osher Foundation's latest grant continues a longstanding tradition of providing financial support to SMU-$48,000 per year since 2006. "We've been pleased with the caliber of students selected to receive scholarships-and their graduation rates," says Lynch. "By establishing an endowment fund at the university, these scholarships will continue to be available year after year."

Together the Bernard Osher Foundation and SMU are equipping students to become highly skilled, compassionate professionals ready to tackle 21st century health care challenges. Students benefit from the University's affiliation with Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center through personalized instruction and hands-on clinical training. Nurses graduating from SMU are in great demand and enjoy one of the highest rates of employment within one year of graduation.

According to Sue Valencia, executive director of development and alumni affairs for SMU, private financial support is critical for enabling bright, qualified students to attend nursing school and fulfill their dreams of becoming health care professionals.

"The grant from the Osher Foundation greatly reduces the financial burden placed on students," says Valencia. "What's more, an endowment fund provides ongoing resources to meet the needs of our students, year after year." Because an endowment's principal must be invested and only the income can be used for its intended purpose, these gifts create financial stability and allow the university to build for the future."

The Osher Foundation's donation was part of more than $4.3 million in scholarship contributions given to Samuel Merritt University in 2009 by generous donors.

How You Can Help

Contributions to Samuel Merritt University are applied according to donors' wishes within the local community. Donated funds support vital academic programs, services and equipment needs.

If you would like to invest in your community by improving the availability and quality of health-related services, please contact Sue Valencia, Executive Director of Development and Alumni Affairs, at 510-869-1507 or svalencia@samuelmerritt.edu.

Source: http://www.sutterhealth.org/annualreport/philanthropy_stories.html

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