To help fill a significant health care void that disproportionately affects underserved communities, Oregon Health & Science University is bolstering nurse-led primary health care by offering new scholarships for graduate students seeking to become nurse practitioners.
Supported by a $2.6-million, four-year award from the U.S. Health Resource and Services Administration, or HRSA, the OHSU School of Nursing will soon provide scholarships that cover at least 20% of tuition for students who are enrolled the school’s graduate education programs for family nurse practitioner, psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner and nurse midwifery. The program has funding for 21 students annually to receive a $21,700 scholarship toward tuition costs, with the potential total of $65,100 for each recipient participating in the three-year educational programs.
“Nurse practitioners serve as primary health care providers for many people in the United States — and that’s particularly the case in rural, tribal and urban underserved communities where there aren’t enough health professionals to meet demand,” said Rebecca Martinez, D.N.P., FNP-BC, M.P.H., an assistant professor in the OHSU School of Nursing who is leading the new scholarship program’s efforts. “The nation’s health care workforce shortage grew during the pandemic, making it more important than ever to help more registered nurses continue their education and become nurse practitioners.”
Nurse practitioners are nurses who have received advanced education and training in order to diagnose and treat diseases, prescribe medications and more. Nurse practitioners can specialize in health care fields like gastroenterology or cardiology, or they can serve as primary care providers who manage physical and mental health conditions and prevent health emergencies.
The new scholarships will help increase both the number and diversity of OHSU’s nurse practitioner students, and also better prepare future nurse practitioners to care for patients in Oregon’s rural, urban and tribal underserved communities. Research has shown that patients fare better when they receive care from diverse teams of health professionals. The Oregon Employment Department also estimates that the state will need about 60% more nurse practitioners by 2031 due to due to increasing health care demand and aging nurses’ expected retirement.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the School of Nursing’s efforts to address Oregon’s workforce shortage,” said OHSU Executive Vice President and Provost Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., FCCP, FASHP, FAST, FACHE. “The demand for nurse practitioners is extraordinary, and these scholarships are critically important to ensuring the state’s most vulnerable communities have access to essential health care services.”
To encourage more rural nurses to become nurse practitioners, OHSU’s family nurse practitioner and psychiatric and mental health practitioner educational programs both offer a hybrid, distance-learning option that involves the OHSU School of Nursing’s regional campuses in Eastern in Southern Oregon. This option enables students to remain in their home communities while they complete most of their coursework virtually. Participating students come to OHSU’s Portland campus twice a year for intensive learning, but other hands-on learning activities can be done closer to home at the school’s La Grande, Ashland and Klamath Falls campuses.
Currently enrolled students who plan to work in underserved communities or identify with groups that are underrepresented in the nursing profession can apply for the new scholarships in October. And those who will start in participating programs next fall will be able to apply during the summer of 2024. Interested students can contact OHSU School of Nursing Admissions at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OHSU’s new scholarship program builds upon an earlier, HRSA-funded effort to recruit and support students in the OHSU School of Nursing’s family nurse practitioner and psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner programs. The previous effort resulted in 102 scholarships being awarded to students between 2019 and 2023.
Funding for the new scholarships was among $100 million in grants that HRSA announced in August to support programs that train more nurses and grow the nursing workforce.
Also included in HRSA’s recent announcement was more than $205,000 from the agency’s Nurse Faculty Loan Program. When combined with nearly $23,000 in matching funds from the university, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program award will enable the OHSU School of Nursing to forgive 85% of educational loans for eligible OHSU nurse educators this year. The federal program seeks to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty. Since 2005, the program has awarded nearly $2.9 million to OHSU, resulting in 96 financial awards for OHSU students and faculty.
What: OHSU School of Nursing scholarship for nurse practitioner programs: $21,700 toward tuition costs annually for the three-year programs.
Who: Currently enrolled students who plan to work in underserved communities or identify with groups that are underrepresented in the nursing profession are eligible to apply.
When: Applications open in October. Contact OHSU School of Nursing Admissions at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.