In a pivotal time for health care, the UNC School of Nursing received a $6.8 million donation to fund scholarships and treatment education programs.
The School of Nursing received the money from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, a charitable trust that supports the health and education of nursing students. This contribution marks the largest private donation in the school's history.
The school will use the money to help fund scholarships for nursing students and contribute to the project of renewing Carrington Hall, Dean of the School of Nursing Nena Peragallo Montano said.
The fund serves two purposes: $6.3 million of the fund will go to the Helene Fuld Health Trust Quality and Safety Education Center, and half a million will go to scholarships for accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing students, Peragallo Montano said.
Because of the pandemic, students could not participate in clinical simulations. The funds will help accelerate preparation for students in the art of quality healthcare, she said.
“We have seen how important the role of nurses has been in this pandemic and I think the public has become more aware, which is a great deal of the importance for nursing and the investment that you do in your own health care, by investing in nursing education and nursing students,” she said.
Carol Fowler Durham is a professor and director of the Education-Innovation-Simulation Learning Environment, a clinical education resource center. She said that she is excited to see the funds go toward a new space for a simulation center.
“(With) my expertise in simulation, this grant from Helene Fuld made me want to dance in my heart and dance in the streets, because their investment in us is just a real honor,” she said.
Durham said that, because of the way COVID-19 has changed healthcare education, the importance of quality simulations has increased. The simulations immerse the student into patient-care scenarios where they can imagine themselves being the nurse, get feedback on their performance and can refine their expertise and clinical reasoning.
Even during a pandemic, nursing education has not stopped moving, said Mary Scott Davis, senior nursing student and chairperson of the School of Nursing Undergraduate Student Governance Council.
Davis said that the donation ensures that future graduate nurses are well prepared for clinical practice and the world of patient safety and quality care.
“There's something really special about being in nursing school during a pandemic,” Davis said. “It's challenging, and at times, it's isolating, but we're living through a time when the country and the world is watching nurses lead — and that's truly special.”
The fund also contributes to supporting the advancement of pedagogy and innovation, and transforming nursing education, Ashley Bryant, professor at the school, said.
Anne Belcher, creator of the Anne Belcher Interprofessional Faculty Scholars Fund, said that as one of the largest nursing programs in North Carolina, the School of Nursing continues to build the capacity of nurses who have a desire to really work with interprofessional teams and focus on quality and safety.
“It's transformative,” Bryant said. “It is going to transform nursing education and nursing education research.”
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