Sun Health Foundation Awards $200,000 in Scholarship Funds to Aspiring Nurses

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Since 1980, Sun Health Foundation has helped hundreds of individuals go to school to become nurses or return to school to sharpen their nursing skills. This year's scholarships will help 78 employees from Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers meet their education goals in nursing.

(L) Susan Hopf, chief nursing officer at Banner Boswell Medical Center presents employee and nursing student Emily Florence with a scholarship.

The majority of people we take care of in our communities are 65 and older so the demand for nurses already is great and will only increase.

Emily Florence is a multi-tasking marvel as she prepares and serves liquid refreshments to a stream of customers at the coffee stand in the lobby of Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City. Amidst the flurry of activity, she manages to make small talk with each customer, calling many by name.

Most if not all of these skills will come in handy in the not-so-distant future when Florence becomes a registered nurse, a lifelong dream.

Thanks to a $2,500 scholarship provided by Sun Health Foundation donors, that dream is edging closer to reality. Lawrence is in her last year of a three-year bachelor’s of nursing program at Chamberlin College of Nursing.

“This has really helped so much,” she said of the award. “Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Florence is getting into the field at a good time. Nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. However, demand is outstripping the supply. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report estimated that 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.

"One of the key factors driving the shortage is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation," said Bonnie Olsen, a development director for the Foundation. "The majority of people we take care of in our communities are 65 and older so the demand for nurses already is great and will only increase."

This year, Sun Health Foundation gave $200,000 in scholarship funds to nurses and aspiring nurses, including Emily Florence, at Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers. Each medical center received $100,000 in funds. Banner Boswell awarded 38 scholarships while Banner Del E. Webb awarded 40 scholarships.

“These scholarships are an amazing opportunity for staff who want to go to school or go back to school to further themselves,” said Susan Hopf, chief nursing officer at Banner Boswell. “With the high cost of education, every bit helps.”

Indeed, the average in-state (Arizona) tuition for a four-year, bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) costs around $45,000.

Staff members at both medical centers began applying for the scholarships last spring. A Scholarship Selection Committee, made up of nurses and non-nurses from both facilities, reviewed the applications and determined the awardees in May. Sun Health Foundation hosted receptions on both campuses in August to recognize the scholarship winners.

Longtime Sun Health Foundation supporter Carol Blitstein attended the reception at Banner Del E. Webb. Nursing education is one of her favorite causes.

“It’s so expensive to go to college and there are so many demands on employees these days, especially those with families. They need to get help somewhere, and this is how I can help,” she said. "We really need more nurses, especially with the older population here."

DeAnne Martinez, a registered nurse who works in the operating room at Banner Del E. Webb, had long considered going back for her BSN (she has an associate’s degree) but kept putting it off. Her two children are now going to college (one a freshman, the other a sophomore), which motivated her to do the same. “I want to lead by example for my kids,” said Martinez who is now in the BSN program at Grand Canyon University.

Sun Health Foundation donors have funded scholarships for nursing students since 1980 when Mesa Community College established a nursing education program on the Boswell Memorial Hospital campus. When Mesa discontinued its program at Boswell in 2013, Grand Canyon University’s (GCU) nursing school opened a satellite program in its place. It’s housed in a 21,000 sq. ft. facility located on the banks of Viewpoint Lake in Sun City, just across the street from Banner Boswell. Sun Health Foundation also provides scholarships to GCU nurses who qualify.

About Sun Health Foundation
For nearly 50 years, Sun Health Foundation donors have supported superior health care in the West Valley. The foundation is a philanthropic partner to the Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical center, as well as community wellness programs and senior living services provided by Sun Health. Learn more at http://www.sunhealthfoundation.org.

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John Tucker
Sun Health
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Ken Reinstein
Sun Health
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