Nurse Practitioner Scholarships
Independence and Autonomy in the Nursing Field
Rising costs, personnel shortages and an already overtaxed healthcare system has greatly increased the need for highly trained nurse practitioners in medical facilities across the country. Nurse practitioners fill a vital need in the nation’s healthcare system, and typically provide primary care at many local hospitals, clinics and Doctor’s offices. For an ever growing number of patients, nurse practitioners are the first, and sometimes only, medical professionals to whom they have access.
Nurse practitioners are Registered Nurses who have returned to college or university, and have received a master’s degree in specialized healthcare. Nurse practitioners are highly trained, and are licensed to perform physical examinations, order and interpret lab tests, and write prescriptions. The value of the nurse practitioner’s role in the American healthcare system can not be overestimated. They help to fill a void left by the current national shortage of primary care physicians. Nurse practitioners also help to provide cost-cutting solutions to an overtaxed healthcare industry, while bringing vital medical care to traditionally under-served urban and rural communities.
The added education necessary to transition from a registered nurse to a nurse practitioner is not inexpensive, and most students will require some level of financial aid to complete their studies. The current demand for nurse practitioners has forced an increase in the availability of scholarships for students pursuing a master’s degree in specialized healthcare. These scholarships are typically supported by professional nursing associations, medical colleges and universities, and Federal and state governments.
A career as a nurse practitioner requires a great deal of education, and an even greater amount of dedication. But with the right scholarship, students can meet the financial and educational challenges head on, and take their place on the front lines of the American healthcare system.
Government Sponsored Scholarships
The Federal government, through its subsidiary agencies, has designed scholarship and loan-forgiveness programs to address the critical shortage of primary healthcare professionals across the country. These programs are designed to encourage and support students who are pursuing careers in the healthcare industry, with a major emphasis on nurses and nurse practitioners.
The following examples illustrate the types of programs that are available at both the Federal level.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides scholarship money for students pursuing a career in a variety of nursing fields. The HRSA Nursing Scholarship Program was designed to address the critical shortage of licensed nurses and nurse practitioners throughout the country by offering scholarships to students with extreme financial need. Special emphasis is placed on the need for nurse practitioners, with nearly half of the available funds being earmarked for students pursuing a master’s level nurse practitioner’s degree. This is an award-for-service program, and recipients will be required to serve a minimum of 2 years at a designated Critical Shortage Facility. In exchange for the required service commitment, the HRSA Nursing Scholarship pays full tuition costs and related fees, as well as providing a monthly stipend for living expenses.
- The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program awards valuable scholarship money to students pursuing careers as primary healthcare professionals. This is an award-for-service scholarship, with eligible students receiving financial assistance in exchange for a commitment to serve in a Critical Shortage Facility. Applicants are eligible for up to 4 years of financial aid to be used for tuition costs, fees and expenses. Special attention is given to students pursuing a master’s level nurse practitioner degree.
Students interested in pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner should also contact their state’s Department of Higher Education to see what programs may be available at the local level. Many states across the country are experiencing critical shortages in primary healthcare personnel, and have put into place valuable scholarship and loan-forgiveness programs to help resident students pursue degrees and careers in the medical field.
Scholarships from Professional Associations
Professional nursing associations are prime sources of financial aid for students pursuing careers in the healthcare industry. These advocacy groups work hard to promote the advancement of their profession, and to encourage and support students embarking on a medical career. While scholarships supported by professional nursing organizations may be more plentiful than those offered by government agencies, they are also much more competitive. Typically these private sector scholarships will place a greater emphasis on academic achievement than on financial need.
Some examples of the types of scholarships offered by professional nursing associations include:
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is the most prominent professional association of nurse practitioners in the United States. Solely dedicated to the professional needs of nurse practitioners, the AANP administers a number of valuable financial aid programs for students pursuing their master’s degree in specialized healthcare, as well as providing grants to practicing NP’s, and NP’s conducting vital research. The AANP administers the NHSC Workforce Diversity Grant, which provides funding for low-income students pursuing degrees in all healthcare fields. The AANP also sponsors their own Nursing Education and Loan Repayment Program which provides award-for-service scholarships to eligible students pursuing careers as nurse practitioners.
- The Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation offers a variety of scholarships for nurse practitioner graduate students, including the NPHF/Proctor & Gamble Endowed Scholarship for Community Service ($1000) and the NPHF/Proctor & Gamble Endowed Scholarship in Gastroenterology ($1000). The NPHF also sponsors the $3500 Astellas Heart Health Through the Ages Award for graduate students engaged in research that promotes heart health in the United States.
- Nursing Education Funds, Inc. has a one hundred year history of helping nursing students find the necessary funds to complete their education. The NEF administers a variety of endowed scholarships to students pursuing their master’s or doctoral degree in nursing and specialized healthcare. To be eligible for an NEF Endowed Scholarship applicants must be Registered Nurses enrolled at least part-time in an accredited nurse practitioner degree program, and must be a member of a recognized professional nursing association.
Scholarship Opportunities from Colleges and Universities
Nursing schools typically offer a variety of financial aid programs to assist attending students. As always, scholarships and grants will vary greatly depending on the college or university in question. Students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing should contact the financial aid offices at their college or university for information on financial aid programs for which they may be qualified.
The following examples of scholarships for students pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner will illustrate the types of programs offered through colleges and universities.
- Upstate Medical University/State University of New York provides a number of valuable financial aid programs for its students. Through its nursing department, UMU administers the Elaine Gelman Nurse Practitioner Scholarship for students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. Named in honor of the Elaine Gelman, a nursing pioneer who fought to legalize the nurse practitioner profession in the early 1980′s, this scholarship offers a $1000 award to students who display a high level of academic achievement, clinical competency and political/community activism.
- The University of Michigan – Flint administers the Ralph M. and Emmalyn E. Freeman Graduate Program Scholarship. This endowed scholarship is available to graduate level students in a number of disciplines, including those pursuing nursing and nurse practitioner degrees. Applicants must have earned a minimum of 12 hours of graduate credit at UMF, and must have a minimum 3.5 GPA. Applicants must also submit two letters of reference and a personal essay. Award amounts vary, and are paid directly into the student’s tuition account.
- The University of Miami School of Nursing & Health Studies offers a variety of financial aid programs for its attending students, including the Nurse Practitioner Council of Palm Beach County Scholarship. The scholarship provides financial assistance to students enrolled in the University of Miami’s Nurse Practitioner degree program. Scholarships are awarded twice a year, and award amounts vary according to availability of funds.
Nurse practitioners fill an increasingly vital role in the American healthcare system. As the population grows, nurse practitioners will become even more important on the front lines of primary medical care. Students interested in pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner face many challenges, not the least of which is financing their continued education. But with hard work, attention to studies, and the right combination of scholarships, grants and loans, students can soon take their place as primary caregivers at medical facilities across the country.