Harrisonburg, Va. (May 19, 2023) — In response to medical staff shortages plaguing our U.S. healthcare system, Sentara Health has launched pipeline development programs to support students pursuing healthcare careers. Through a $3 million investment in the Sentara Scholars program, Sentara is working to create opportunities for young students to reach their desired healthcare careers, while also positively impacting their community’s economics and health equity outcomes.
As part of the Sentara Scholars program, Eastern Mennonite University received $200,000 in scholarship funds from Sentara Health.
“We are really thrilled that Sentara is continuing to build a healthy partnership with Eastern Mennonite University, particularly in the healthcare area,” says Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman, EMU president.
“Nursing has been one of our top majors at EMU for a long, long time and continues to be,” she adds. “It’s a very important partnership because we are preparing students for the workforce, for community involvement, and we really can’t do that without community partners.”
Sentara RMH Medical Center employs hundreds of nurses, many of whom graduated from Eastern Mennonite University.
“As we look toward the future with nursing, it’s so important that we have good partnerships with our local universities,” says Chief Nursing Officer for Sentara RMH, Gina Yost, MSN, RN, NEA-BC.
“With EMU, we have a fabulous partnership that helps us build that nursing workforce for the future,” she adds. “So, we’re really happy today to be able to provide this gift for EMU students to reduce the financial barriers that can sometimes be a challenge so that we can get folks in the workforce and into healthcare career fields.”
Some students working toward advanced degrees do not have the same access to financial aid as undergraduate students. This is how EMU has chosen to apply the Sentara Scholars funds.
“We are very grateful for the partnership with Sentara RMH. Our students have wonderful clinical experiences there and that partnership has been in place for a long time,” says EMU Nursing Department Chair, Melody Cash, Phd, RN. “We are extremely grateful for the financial gift that has supported our students. Our seven accelerated students that received the gift are a part of a program where they already have a degree, then progress in 15 months through the program. They don’t get a lot of financial aid because they have a degree. So, it was wonderful for them to receive that gift.”
“I think our partnership with EMU can be summarized as, the future of our community’s health is tied to the future of our healthcare providers,” says Cory Davies, executive director of the RMH Foundation. “And to the extent that we can ensure that those healthcare providers get a good education, are grounded in the values that Sentara also holds, it means our community will also be better off for it too.”
Sentara Scholars is a student assistance program with the goal of helping remove financial barriers that prevent student enrollment and retention. Sentara Scholars funding has been made available to students through partnerships with academic institutions and non-profit organizations throughout Virginia and North Carolina. Recipients will be selected from a combination of merit and need-based criteria.
“Sentara Scholars is a testament to our commitment to building a stronger healthcare pipeline and advancing health equity through collaboration with educational institutions,” said Becky Sawyer, Sentara executive vice president and chief people officer. “By reducing the financial burden on students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, offering stronger mentorship and training opportunities, and removing barriers to higher-paying and more meaningful careers, we are investing in the future of healthcare and empowering the next generation of professionals.”
A $200,000 Sentara Scholars check presentation for James Madison University is scheduled for Friday, May 26.
A full list of the Sentara Scholars is outlined below:
ACCESS College Foundation Centura College College of the Albemarle Foundation Eastern Mennonite University Elizabeth City State University George Mason University Foundation, Inc. Hampton Roads Community Foundation James Madison University Medical College of Virginia Foundation Norfolk State University Foundation Old Dominion University Educational Foundation Sentara College of Health Sciences Virginia Foundation for Community College Education Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready) Virginia State University Virginia Union University Virginia Wesleyan University Western Governors University
About Sentara Health • www.sentara.com/news Sentara, an integrated, not-for-profit health care delivery system, celebrates 135 years in pursuit of its mission—"we improve health every day." Sentara is one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and among the top 20 largest not-for-profit integrated health systems in the country, with 30,000 employees, 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, and the Sentara Health Plans division which serves more than 1.2 million members in Virginia and Florida. Sentara is recognized nationally for clinical quality and safety and is strategically focused on innovation and creating an extraordinary health care experience for our patients and members. Sentara was named to IBM Watson Health’s "Top 15 Health Systems" (2021, 2018), and was recognized by Forbes as a "Best Employer for New Grads" (2022), "Best Employer for Veterans" (2022), and "Best Employer for Women" (2020).