Health First Foundation Awards Nursing Scholarships to Further Education, Career Transitions

PHILANTHROPY SPOTLIGHT

Christina Simpson, left, and Christie Floyd, right, was among 34 health care professionals who received scholarships courtesy of the Health First Foundation. “I graduated from nursing school in 1989 and have put off going back to school to concentrate on raising my two wonderful daughters,” said Simpson, a Palm Bay Hospital Emergency Department nurse. (Health First image)

Health First Foundation awards go to nursing career hopefuls as well as mid-career professionals. Now is the time to invest in front-line workers.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Healthcare workers have a challenging job under any conditions, but the last two years have been a mission few signed up for. Still, some are doubling down on the profession, and for those hardy souls the Health First Foundation and its army of donors have got their backs.

For many of those committed to furthering their education or making the big leap into the profession, the Health First Foundation last month awarded 34 scholarships totaling $85,000.

“Last May, when COVID-19 was just becoming prevalent, I took the leap and started back to school for my BSN after a 15-year hiatus,” wrote Lisa Lane, a Cape Canaveral Hospital nurse, in her application essay.

“I never felt a real push to pursue my BSN until COVID came along. With so much fear and uncertainty, as a nation and as a profession, we worried if and how there would be enough nurses to care for all that had fallen ill with it. I have always felt that education is the foundation of nursing.”

Her educational goal is to become a nurse educator herself.

“Nursing shortages are words we have been hearing for the past few decades. COVID-19 has exacerbated the current nursing shortage.”

For Christine Simpson, the education will make her a role model for others, including her daughters.

“I graduated from nursing school in 1989 and have put off going back to school to concentrate on raising my two wonderful daughters,” says Christine Simpson, a Palm Bay Hospital Emergency Department nurse.

“One daughter is now in college and one is in middle school. … Acquiring my BSN will complete what I started so many years ago and set a great example for my daughters in finishing what you start and achieving your goals.”

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For many of those committed to furthering their education or making the big leap into the profession, the Health First Foundation last month awarded 34 scholarships totaling $85,000. Above, Hospice of Health First’s Emily Harris and Jennifer Hoehn were among received nursing scholarships. (Health First image)

The Health First Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee began awarding scholarships in 2015 and has every year since, working with its Health First partners in Human Resources, Marketing and Nursing Leadership.

In total, it’s awarded 219 scholarships totaling $600,000.

“Some individual donors have opted to set up their own named Endowment Funds at the Foundation or even leave us a gift in their will or trust for nursing education.  In addition, these scholarships are supported through annual contributions from grateful patients, physicians and clinicians, along with Health First leaders and associates who give through the Associate Month of Giving each year,” says Chris Kern, Foundation System Director of Operations and Sustained Giving, who helps administer the scholarship selection and awards.

“The $600,000 awarded over the last few years is a direct result of generous giving and has had a healthy impact on our nurses, our patients – and our community.”

This year, it disbursed $2,500 scholarships to 34 Health First associates. The Foundation supports the organization’s goal to advance continuing education at Health First. These college students will be getting bachelor’s and advanced degrees in nursing, and in one instance, supporting a transition out of a business role at Health First Health Plans and into the clinical care of patients.

“Nursing is something I had always wanted to do but with being a single parent and working a full-time job, I didn’t have the extra time or resources,” says Kim Klick, a business analyst with Health First Health Plans.

Health First Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee began awarding scholarships in 2015 and has every year since, working with its Health First partners in Human Resources, Marketing and Nursing Leadership.

Funds for the 2021 round of nursing scholarships were generously provided through gifts to the Health First Foundation. Special recognition goes to the following:

■ The Mike Means Larry Garrison Endowment for Nursing Excellence
■ The Igo Endowment Fund
■ The Allen and Sandra Henry Endowment for Nursing Excellence
■ The Andre Family Foundation
■ The Walter Gatti Foundation
■ BIMDA
■ Jessica Andre
■ Pamela A. Gatto
■ Kirk Kessel
■ Christine Lance, and
■ Our own Health First Associates

The scholarships are just one way Health First supports the continuing education of its staff. The company offers tuition reimbursement up to $5,000 annually to all full-time associates pursuing advanced degrees, and $3,000 for bachelor’s degrees. Part-time associates are allotted half these amounts.

“Our nurses are very talented and give so much each and every day. Advancing their education equips our nurses to provide additional knowledge and skills to care for our patients and community,” said Cheyana Fischer, Chief Nursing Officer, Health First.

“We are grateful for the support of the Health First Foundation to help nurses pursue additional education and expand new horizons whether in clinical care, leadership or education.”

For many of those committed to furthering their education or making the big leap into the profession, the Health First Foundation last month awarded 34 scholarships totaling $85,000. “Last May, when COVID-19 was just becoming prevalent, I took the leap and started back to school for my BSN after a 15-year hiatus,” said Cape Canaveral Hospital nurse Lisa Lane. (Health First image)

NURSING SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

■ Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital: Nicole Culwell, RN, Patricia Glass, RN, Lisa Lane, RN, Megan Roll, RN
■ Health First, Corporate Support Services: Stephanie Spohn, Megan Jordan, RN and Deborah Hinson
■ Health First Cancer Institute: Shelby Draulis, RN
■ Hospice of Health First: Jennifer Hoehn, Emily Harris, RN, Julie Dunn, RN and Katelynn Martino, RN
■ Health First Health Plans: Kim Klick
■ Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center: Natasha Owen, RN, Michelle Thomas, Ashley White, RN, Tracy Woodman, Ericka Cobb, RN, Alesia Quaid, RN, Alyssa Russo, Ashley Carman, Brittany Dykstra, RN, Christin Crocker, RN, Amber Richards, RN, Alessaundra Espinoza, RN, Carina Torres, Hallye Montgomery, RN and Alivia Riffle, RN
■ Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital: Christine Simpson, RN, Christine Floyd, RN, Brittani Fuss, RN, John Gibbens, RN,
■ Health First’s Viera Hospital: Nicole Fraumeni, RN

To support the Health First Nursing Scholarship program or to learn more about Nursing Endowments, please call Jeanene Donilon at Health First Foundation at 321.434.7386. For those interested in a career in Health First nursing, please visit Careers.HF.org.

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