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University gets $600,000 endowed grant for grad nursing scholarships

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The College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has received a $600,000 grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust to fund endowed scholarships for graduate nursing students.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust works to ensure the health, welfare and education of student nurses. The trust was established in 1935 as the Helene Fuld Health Foundation to honor its namesake, who had been a health care advocate.

The endowment grant awarded to UL Lafayette will enable some students pursuing or interested in pursuing nursing master’s degrees to earn partial scholarships, said Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

Oberleitner anticipates the college will begin accepting scholarship applications as soon as this semester. “The endowment grant will potentially fund any full- or part-time student who meets University eligibility requirements and is enrolled in one of the college’s master of science in nursing concentrations,” she said.

Endowed funds are invested, which means the capital is not spent. Only a portion of the interest earned is tapped. So, the Helene Fuld endowment will become a perpetual source of funding for graduate nursing student scholarships.

That’s significant, Oberleitner explained, because “for years to come the scholarships will ease the pathway to graduate degrees for nursing students who earn them – and help the University continue to address growing state and national workforce needs.”

“There’s a tremendous shortage of nurse practitioners to work in primary care areas in Louisiana and across the country. At the same time there is a tremendous shortage of nursing educators,” she added.

The College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions addresses workforce deficits through its master’s degrees that feature family nurse practitioner and nursing education concentrations.

Family nurse practitioners are registered nurses with graduate degrees and specialized clinical training. FNPs have a broad scope of practice, from providing preventative care for infants, children and adults to treating serious illnesses. 

National employment for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives – professions that the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups into a single category as advanced practice nurses – is expected to increase by 45 percent between 2020 and 2030.

UL Lafayette’s master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in nursing education is geared toward students interested in becoming faculty members or clinical instructors at colleges and universities. It is also designed to prepare graduates for staff development jobs in health care settings.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing predicts increases in national nursing faculty shortages that can be attributed, in large part, to an aging faculty base. “The result will be a wave of retirements in coming years,” Oberleitner said.

Employment projections – and the endowment grant – pave the way for additional concentrations to be added to the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions’ master’s degree in nursing, however.

“The ability to increase scholarships will be key in helping us getting qualified people out into the workforce in shortage areas and we anticipate being able to do that by establishing more graduate concentrations,” Oberleitner said.

To learn more about College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and its graduate programs and scholarships, contact Dr. Jennifer Lemoine, the college’s graduate coordinator, at jml3433@louisiana.edu or (337) 482-1029.

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions has been awarded a $600,000 grant by the Helene Fuld Health Trust to fund endowed scholarships for graduate students. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

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