Hearst Endowed Scholarship

“This scholarship has allowed to me achieve my career goals and improve my nursing leadership skills. It has also allowed me to enroll in extra elective classes...that have further helped me to become a proficient, competent, and capable AGACNP.” - 2021 Hearst Endowed Scholar

Mendoza Ruvalcaba
Cristian Mendoza Ruvalcaba, B.S.N., B.A., RN, Hearst Endowed Scholar AY 2021-22

The Hearst Endowed Scholarship provides funding for students enrolled in Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at OHSU's School of Nursing who are in the final year of their program. All advanced practice nursing students who are dedicated to the unique needs of our older adult population and improving their health and well-being are encouraged to apply.

Up to $15,000 will be awarded to qualified students.

The call for applications for academic year 2024-25 will be open Spring 2024 and will be made through the School of Nursing website.


The Hearst Endowed Scholarship provides funding for students focused on gerontological advanced practice nursing and who are enrolled in the final year of study in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) program at the OHSU School of Nursing.

Eligible advanced practice nursing students must have an interest in and commitment to the care of older persons, in any setting, be it acute care, primary care, long-term care or community-based care.

To learn more, please read our 2023 Call for Applications flier.

About the Hearst Endowed Scholarship

The goal of the Hearst Foundations’ Endowed Scholarship is to support clinical scholarship and prepare advanced practice nursing students in the care of older persons. As our population ages it becomes vital that nurses, the largest segment of the nation’s health care system, be trained and competent in the care of older adults.

Since 2002, over $572,000 has been awarded to 76 graduate students who are preparing to become the next generation of advanced practice nurses with expertise in the care of older adults. The Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence is honored to steward this significant endowment.

About the Hearst Foundations

The Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations working in the fields of culture, education, health, and social services. The Hearst Foundations identify and fund outstanding nonprofits to ensure that people of all backgrounds in the United States have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives, with an emphasis on those providing specialized care for the complex needs of older adult populations.

Visit the Hearst Foundations website.

Hearst Endowed Scholars for AY 2023-24

Our Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence is pleased to announce the recipients of the Hearst Foundations’ Endowed Scholarship for AY 2023-24. These three D.N.P. students are, without exception, excellent clinicians and leaders, dedicated to improving older adult patient health outcomes, through person-centered care and quality improvement.

They exemplify the passion and compassion, dedication to excellence, and critical thought required of our next generation of nurse leaders.

Please join us in congratulating them.


Ryan Cummings, M.S.N., FNP - Post Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program

Since becoming an RN in 2010, Ryan has dedicated the vast majority of his career to the field of chronic wound management, a discipline that overwhelmingly impacts older adults. As we age, we develop conditions and physiologic changes that impact the body's ability to heal, and he takes particular joy in providing the education and care necessary to allow these chronic ulcerations to heal. He advanced his career by attaining his M.S.N. and FNP from Gonzaga University in 2018. He is currently in his final year of our Post-Master’s DNP program.

Cheri Harrel, MS, BSN, RN, Program Director, OHSU Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Clinic wrote in her Letter of Support for his scholarship application that under her supervision Ryan became a clinical nurse manager and assumed a formal leadership role. While in that role he led an improvement initiative of the clinic’s clinical performance. She noted, “Ryan’s approach to implementing process improvement is akin to his approach to patient care: respectable, quality-focused and patient-centered.”

In 2022, when Harrel learned of another opportunity for an advanced practice provider she asked Ryan to join the OHSU Wound & Hyperbaric Medicine Clinic. Since then, she has been able to coordinate opportunities for Ryan to present wound care education at continuing medical education conferences.

Ryan has an extremely strong passion for providing direct care to geriatric wound care patients and hopes to always remain at least partly involved in the clinical setting. However, it is more and more obvious that unless an understanding of chronic wound management and the requirements for appropriate healing in aging populations are better disseminated in the medical community, patients will continue to suffer needlessly.

For these reasons, Ryan intends to develop a standard wound healing curriculum as his DNP project to be implemented in medical training programs for advanced providers. He wrote, “Wound management isn't esoteric and shouldn't be considered a fringe specialty - if these principles were better known and the likely causes of non-healing ulcerations were identified at a patient's very first visit, major amputation rates, morbidity and mortality could be significantly lowered, to say nothing of the value of alleviating the pain, isolation and depression which accompany chronic wounds.”


Kaitlyn Fox, B.S.N., RN - Family Nurse Practitioner program (FNP)

Kaitlyn is very passionate about her career path and is dedicated to gerontologic care, especially serving those who have served us. She grew up in a military family and her ultimate goal is to provide palliative care to our Veterans who live in rural areas. The care of older adults, particularly in palliative care, is often complex due to many comorbid conditions; the lack of services in rural areas only compounds this complexity. As an advanced practice registered nurse she will be poised to make a difference.

In her Letter of Support, Rachel Prusak, MSN, FNP- BC, wrote about Kaitlyn’s path to nursing. “Kaitlyn cared for older adults as a certified nursing assistant which reinforced her deep commitment to this vulnerable population. She also has bedside nursing experience in pediatric oncology and hematology where she gained experience of not only caring for children at the end of life, but caring and attending to the whole family during this time. Her experiences with older adults and those at the end of their life brought Kaitlyn to the decision to focus on geriatrics with a palliative care approach. She is able to acknowledge the needs of the whole family and ensure each person feels heard, which is very important in the care of older individuals.” (R. Prusak, MSN, FNP- BC, personal communication, “Hearst Application Letter of Support”, April 18, 2023).

Kaitlyn’s DNP project is focused on improving transitional care in the Salem VA Primary Care Clinic. The aim of her project is to create a tool-kit for primary care providers to use to guide their patient assessments and clinical decision-making during the post-discharge period of patient care.

Post-graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to obtain a clinical residency at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


Wonsil Sayson, B.S.N., RN - Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program (AGAC-NP)

During a clinical experience at OHSU’s Community Oncology Hematology Clinic, Wonsil’s passion for caring for older people was bolstered. During the rotation, she enjoyed interacting with all of the cancer patients, but found a special connection to the elders because they reminded her of her grandfathers who both died from cancer.

Fourteen years ago, when Wonsil first came to the U.S. from S. Korea, she learned about how baby boomer’s lengthening life expectancy is predicted to increase the demand for cancer care. She thanks God for the opportunity to continue her education in the U.S. as a lifelong learner. She earned her BSN at George Fox University and has been working as an inpatient oncology nurse for the past 5 years. She learned that cancers in older age groups tend to present in advanced stages by the time they are diagnosed which can consequently result in more complicated treatments and worse prognoses. Many older cancer patients have comorbidities and complex conditions requiring comprehensive and holistic care approach. There is no “one size fits all” in cancer care. Wonsil is deeply passionate about caring for older oncology patients and looks forward to joining the OHSU oncology team. She is encouraged to fulfill the promise of patient-centered, individualized, and evidence-based cancer care and pursue excellence as a future AGACNP in geriatric and cancer care.

She is interested in provider burnout and moral distress in oncology care with a goal to better understand how burnout can affect providing quality and continuity of care to cancer patients. Additionally, she plans to investigate patients’ outcomes with fluid resuscitations for sepsis management in the older population, which may contribute to improving care for immunocompromised cancer patients.

Hearst Scholars AY 2022-23

These four outstanding nurses will join our teams of health care providers with the skills and critical thinking to lead us into the future.

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Tiffany Allen, M.N., RN, PCCN-K, Family Nurse Practitioner program (FNP)

Tiff has been with the  OHSU School of Nursing for over 20 years either as a student, research assistant, or faculty member, often executing more than one role at a time. Much of her work and learning has been focused on older adults and their care. Here is a list of journal articles she co-authored. As an undergraduate in 2013-14, she completed the Hartford Center’s Gerontological Nursing Honors program and, after graduation, worked at a regional access hospital in their telemetry unit and quickly took on a leadership role. Upon completion of her Master in Nursing Science in 2018, she joined the School of Nursing as faculty.

Tiff is enrolled in our Family Nurse Practitioner program’s expansion into regional/rural Oregon. Her nursing clinical practice has been focused on complex case management in the care of older adults with heart failure. As an advanced practice RN she has worked in a regional health center to improve systems of care and her patients’ access to specialist care after acute exacerbations of heart failure.

She will be focusing her D.N.P. project on access to advanced heart failure therapies to rural and geographically isolated populations.

Jackie Webb, D.N.P., FNP-BC, RN and FNP Program Director, wrote in her Letter of Support for Allen’s scholarship, “I have no doubt that she will be able to affect social and health care policies as a DNP-FNP working with vulnerable populations. She is committed to the leadership role of the DNP-FNP… [and she] pays attention to those she works with to create effective work environments. She has the expertise to advocate for her community’s needs, address health inequities and decrease access barriers to healthcare.”

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Jennifer Ericson, B.S.N., RN, CPTC, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program (AGAC-NP)

In addition to a full course load in our AGAC-NP program, for the past three years, Jennifer has worked as an Organ Donation Coordinator for a local transplant bank. Here she has been fortunate to bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit and the altruism of donor families on what may be the worst day of their lives. While serving donor families, a common theme she noticed is the lack of communication regarding end-of-life wishes and how beneficial advanced care planning could have been.

It is because of her experiences she has become more appreciative of the importance of palliative care. While many believe palliative care is synonymous with hospice, palliative care is a comprehensive approach to improving quality of life by providing relief from pain, nausea, depression, difficulty sleeping, constipation and more. Many of these symptoms are experienced by older adults in combination with the symptoms of progressive illnesses such as heart failure.

She believes palliative care is uniquely situated to be integrated with heart failure treatment to improve management of the high symptom burden experienced.

For her DNP project, she would like to implement a screening tool for patients with heart failure that would aid providers in evaluating the patient’s readiness for referral to palliative care for more advanced symptom management. This screening tool would help overcome barriers to palliative care such as the mistaken belief that it is only for those at end-of-life, or that the patients are “too healthy” for referral.

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Coleen Ju, B.S.N., RN, FNP program

After completing the Accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing program at OHSU, Coleen soon began working as a hospice nurse; work that only further inspired her desire to care for older adults. She is focused on holistic, patient-centered care; care where needs are heard, wishes are honored and respect is given to the variety of ways in which people envision the last moments of their lives.  

In her thank you letter to the Hearst Foundations, who fund this endowed scholarship, she wrote, “As I quickly approach my last year in the DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner program, I take with me all the beautiful lessons I have gained while working with older adults. Unfortunately, geriatric care continues to see a great lack of providers and as a future FNP, I hope to play a role in filling that gap.”

“Coleen is focusing her DNP project on addressing the clinical problem of assessing safety concerns in older adult drivers. She recently submitted a benchmark paper on this topic, completing a literature review and noting that this is an area often overlooked in primary care due to a variety of barriers and rationales. She plans to focus on provider education to teach evidence-based practices to improve patient outcomes concerning older adult driving safety (M. W. McKimmy, D.N.P., FNP-C, APRN, personal communication, March 21, 2022).”

Coleen closed her thank you letter with, “A person’s later years are often full of exciting change and I am eager to work with these individuals through both the positive and negative changes."

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Brianna Shilling, B.S.N, RN, AGAC-NP program        

Inspired by the values informed by her upbringing and personal experience, Brianna’s career in healthcare began over ten years ago when she volunteered with nurses to support patient care. She recognized that she wanted to pursue a profession where compassion was an integral part of her daily practice.

To attain her doctorate in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care and practice as a nurse practitioner will present her with opportunities for leadership, work as faculty in nursing education and in clinical settings, and service to her community. Her compassionate, clinical competencies in acute and chronic disease management hold great promise for the older adults who come under her care. 

Brianna is developing her DNP project with OHSU’s orthopedic trauma surgery team. She is in the initial stages of designing an evidence-based, clinical pathway to identify and address frailty in geriatric patients to prevent adverse outcomes such as prolonged length of stay, increased risk of admission, loss of independence and treatment plan non-compliance.

In addition to the development of her doctoral project and being immersed in clinical rotations and upper-level disease and symptom management coursework, she maintains part-time employment at a hospital in the greater Portland region. With her remaining time, she volunteers in community wellness clinics to provide care for individuals struggling with the effects of the COVID pandemic. She wrote, “Through this incredibly challenging time, I feel the most beneficial thing we can do is continue to invest in our community and support those around us.”

She believes that her practice will help meet the demand our nation faces to provide transformative, evidence-based care to our growing population of older adults.