Editor's Note: This article was originally published by the Herald-Tribune on May 20.
With increased support from area foundations, the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition has announced that it has more than doubled the number of nursing education scholarships it is awarding to local recipients this spring.
SNAC awarded 44 scholarships totaling $110,000 to nursing students and working nurses pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees and three scholarships totaling $48,000 to nurses pursuing doctoral degrees. All of the recipients live or work in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties.
The annual scholarships are part of SNAC’s multipronged action plan to strengthen the region’s nursing workforce by boosting the number of BSN-prepared nurses and the doctorate-level nursing instructors needed to teach them.
“Never in my 45-year nursing career has the value — and vulnerability — of nursing been so clearly brought into focus,” said Jan Mauck, who co-founded and has been leading SNAC’s advocacy efforts since retiring as chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in 2016.
“This pandemic has compelled nurses at all levels to take on new and expanded leadership roles, collaborating in ways they never had to before, as they tried to solve problems you would never expect in our nation’s well-equipped health care system.”
Since 2016, SNAC has awarded $422,000 in nursing scholarships to 119 local recipients (including those awarded this month). The scholarships were created to encourage more nurses to obtain their bachelor’s and higher degrees. A BSN nurse’s education includes an extra year and a half of in-depth training in social sciences, management, research, public and community health, and leadership.
Significant donations from area donors made it possible to more than double the number of scholarships from last year, said Charles Baumann, a retired accountant and longtime community leader who serves as SNAC’s volunteer co-chair and business adviser.
“Helping area nurses obtain advanced degrees not only helps counter the local nursing shortage, but it also equips our nurses with the knowledge and expertise to help guide patients and our community through all complex medical situations, not just emergencies like COVID-19,” said Baumann.
SNAC scholarships are administered by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Manatee Community Foundation. Other supporting foundations include: The Patterson Foundation, Burruss Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Lela D. Jackson Foundation, Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation, Rita B. Lamere Memorial Foundation, and Sarah Greer Mayer Fund of the Community Foundation, Charlotte Community Foundation, and CareerEdge.