The Scholarship Solution
OHSU Extra, Fall 2010
As Oregon braces for the looming shortage of health professionals, OHSU is working to educate today’s best medical, dental and nursing students. Savvy donors know that supporting them with scholarships can help ensure a healthy future for our region.
Jessica Carlson was a one-time Miss Oregon. Maria Rocha-Avila was a certified medical assistant. Christopher Butler was the first in his family to go to college. Right now all three are side by side, hitting the books and seeing patients as medical, nursing and dental students at Oregon Health & Science University. Despite different backgrounds, these high achievers now have something else in common: each is the recipient of a scholarship made possible by private philanthropic support.
Graduate education in the health sciences has always been an expensive proposition, but with state support continuing to decrease dramatically under fiscal pressure, public schools such as OHSU must often rely on tuition increases and other measures to preserve academic excellence. For prospective students, scholarships can make a significant difference.
Although OHSU’s reputation for quality consistently attracts thousands more outstanding candidates than it has capacity to enroll, coveted applicants too often accept competing offers from out-of-state schools with broader scholarship offerings. And since newly minted health professionals often ultimately practice where they attended school, the eventual loss to our healthcare system is incalculable.
Recognizing this opportunity, enlightened donors have recently come forward to support students in OHSU’s graduate schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry. Last fiscal year, new scholarship support across campus totaled $15 million – a result to celebrate. Below is a roundup of recent scholarship investments:
School of Medicine
As Oregon’s healthcare workforce shrinks, especially in rural parts of the state, OHSU is striving to train more “high-impact” students – individuals with strong community roots, an innate understanding of the needs and concerns of today’s patients, and a deep desire to serve.
This summer and fall an anonymous donor made two gifts of $5 million, which together are the largest such investment in the school’s history, to establish a unique scholarship fund to support high-impact medical students. The scholarships will be available to students enrolling in the 2011-12 academic year.
“The long-term impact of these scholarships will be enormous,” said OHSU School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson, M.D., M.B.A. “This transforming philanthropic contribution directly supports our effort to ensure that our region’s healthcare work force needs are met. The gift reflects this donor’s sustained commitment to the health and well being of Oregon and Oregonians – as well as a desire to reduce student loan debt among graduates. We are profoundly grateful.”
Transformational gifts come in all sizes, however. There’s no clearer example of the power of scholarship support than former OHSU scholarship recipient, alumnus and current faculty member Mark Hattenhauer, M.D., an assistant professor of cardiology in the OHSU School of Medicine who, together with his wife, Chris, made a $100,000 gift to endow a scholarship specifically for medical students from Oregon. According to Hattenhauer, the thrill of being accepted at OHSU in the early 1960s was tempered by concerns about cost. Newly married and the first in his family to complete college,
Dr. Hattenhauer relied on scholarship assistance to make ends meet during his academic years.
“When that acceptance letter arrives in their mailbox, I want today’s students to feel just as elated as I did,” he said. “We cannot allow their financial situation to hold them back.”
School of Nursing
A 2009 bequest of $1 million from the estate of Claire Pasarow remains the single largest bequest to fund scholarships in the OHSU School of Nursing’s history. Nursing education received another substantial boost last year when an anonymous donor committed $600,000 to create scholarships for 20 OHSU nursing students and to train practicing graduate-level nurses to serve as clinical nursing educators across Oregon.
This fall, additional scholarship support for nursing students has come from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, which awarded the OHSU School of Nursing $600,000 to fund undergraduate scholarships with a focus on students with a bachelor’s degree in another field, thus enabling a broad range of students to choose nursing as a career option.
“The visionary investment these donors have made will be returned to the community by our students who will bring outstanding care, innovation and leadership to nursing in Oregon and beyond,” said Michael Bleich, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of the OHSU School of Nursing.
Previous philanthropic support from grant-making foundations has long been instrumental in expanding educational opportunities for future Oregon nurses. The Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE) has become a national model for addressing the nursing shortage through collaborative regionalized education and training at OHSU and eight community colleges statewide. During the past decade, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Ford Family Foundation, The William Randolph Hearst Foundations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Northwest Health Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Oregon Health Career Center, Oregon Workforce Investment Board and several federal agencies have committed more than $5 million to support OCNE.
School of Dentistry
For some graduates of the OHSU School of Dentistry, the debt relief provided by scholarships will provide the financial freedom to begin their careers in a rural practice, where the need is greatest but the earning potential is more limited. For others, it will create the opportunity to continue their training in specialty areas facing severe work-force shortages. And for still others, it will allow the freedom to care for at-risk, low-income or other vulnerable patient populations.
The late Wilbur N. Van Zile, D.D.S., a School of Dentistry professor emeritus and its first graduate residency program director of oral and maxillofacial surgery, provided $5.1 million through his estate to benefit students at the School of Dentistry. This bequest – the largest private donation in the dental school’s 111-year history – will establish the Dr. Wilbur N. and Ruth Harrison Van Zile Scholars Program. The first scholars will be named in time for the 2011-12 academic year.
Meanwhile The ODS Companies made a $300,000 gift to establish and fund for three years the ODS Scholars Program, providing $20,000 scholarships – the largest available in the School of Dentistry – for five fourth-year students per year. One ODS scholarship has been named in memory of Kathryn Robertson, daughter of OHSU President Joseph Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. The first ODS scholars will be named this winter.
In addition The Willamette Dental Foundation has pledged $100,000 to assist enrolled dental students.Two $10,000 scholarships will be awarded annually to third- and fourth-year dental students during the next five years, targeted to students interested in working in a group practice upon graduation.
“These are all exceptional commitments from philanthropic partners who are providing opportunities for outstanding students and ensuring future dentists for our region,” said School of Dentistry Dean Jack Clinton, D.M.D.
Support for Student Scholars
This fall the Portland Chapter of the ARCS Foundation, a women’s service organization dedicated to promoting American innovation in science and technology through awards to high-achieving graduate students, celebrated a significant milestone – $1 million raised since 2005, including more than $950,000 to support 64 exceptional Ph.D. students across OHSU.
“This remarkable group supports the education of tomorrow’s best biomedical research scientists,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “Their investment reflects an understanding of the potential of scientific research to change the world.”