Since 2011, the Sharp Center of Nursing Excellence (CONE) has provided $716,000 in scholarship assistance to 162 of Sharp’s registered nurses and non-nursing team members to pursue nursing degrees.
The scholarships are funded through the philanthropic contributions of the Foundations of Sharp HealthCare donors, and allow those seeking to advance their education to achieve a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN), master of science in nursing degree (MSN) or doctorate in nursing from accredited programs.
Teri Armour-Burton, PhD, a progressive care unit nursing manager at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, received a CONE scholarship award in 2016 and a scholarship from the Grossmont Hospital Foundation in 2015 for her doctoral study focused on African-American women and breast cancer disparities. It examined the psychological effects of culturally related stress, which can result in poor physical well-being.
“I had two children in college and was stressed about finances — I seriously considered stopping my quest to achieve my PhD,” Armour-Burton says. “The scholarship was incredibly helpful and allowed me to continue.”
According to Laurie Ecoff, director of education, research and professional practice at Sharp Memorial Hospital, these scholarships are vital to improving health care, advancing nursing science, and developing future advanced practice clinicians, health care leaders, educators, researchers and policymakers.
She notes that the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report recommended increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020 and double the number of nurses with a doctorate degree.
“The CONE scholarship program has awarded 51 scholarships to nurses to obtain a BSN. Sharp now has 33 nurses with a doctorate degree, surpassing the report’s recommendation,” says Ecoff. “This is remarkable for a community-based health system and demonstrates the value Sharp HealthCare places on advanced education for our nurses.”
Armour-Burton’s doctoral work, which she will complete this spring, can serve as a pilot study to examine the multiplicative effects that gender, race and class have on psychological well-being and subsequent health outcomes. Findings can be combined with biomedical models to help navigate research efforts on breast cancer disparities.
“I have already been contacted to join a group of nurse researchers who are looking to address health disparities across various ethnic lines within San Diego County,” she says. “I hope to conduct further research in the area of health disparities and present my findings at conferences in the U.S. and abroad.”
Her success is a testament to the impact of the scholarship program. Not only does CONE provide Sharp nurses with resources and opportunities for enhanced collaboration, best-practice sharing and lifelong learning, but it also makes a difference in their careers, their lives and the lives of those they work with and treat.
If you would like to make a gift in support of the Center of Nursing Excellence (CONE), visit the Foundations of Sharp HealthCare website.