Frontier Nursing University has endowed a new scholarship to support African American, Black, Native American, and Alaskan Native students. The scholarship, which will support 10 students per year, was established and approved by FNU’s Board of Directors during their quarterly meeting in April 2021.
The scholarship is in keeping with the University’s mission, which is “to provide accessible nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner education to prepare competent, entrepreneurial, ethical, and compassionate leaders in primary care to serve all individuals with an emphasis on women and families in diverse, rural, and underserved populations.” The University’s focus on diverse, rural, and underserved populations is in response to the persistent health care disparities in the United States.
“While our other endowed scholarships are needed by and available to students of all backgrounds, this particular scholarship is in direct response to the health disparities for the designated groups,” FNU President Dr. Susan Stone said. “Data demonstrates that culturally concordant care improves health care outcomes, which is why we have made increasing the diversity of the health care workforce a strategic priority at FNU.”
A November 2020 study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, among women with a college education or higher, Black women have a pregnancy-related mortality rate that is over five times higher than that of White women. The pregnancy-related mortality rate for Black women with a completed college education or higher is 1.6 times higher than the rate for White women with less than a high school diploma.
Disparities are also prevalent elsewhere. A 2019 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that non-Hispanic Black persons were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic or Pacific Islander persons to die of heart disease in 2017. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that, in 2018, American Indians and Alaska Natives were 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than their white counterparts. The CDC also shared a report that found that 34% of COVID-19 deaths were among non-Hispanic Black people, though this group accounts for only 12% of the total U.S. population.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a top priority at FNU for more than a decade,” FNU Board Chair Dr. Michael Carter said. “Not only do we know that these DEI initiatives are the right thing to do ethically, but the data clearly indicates that a well-prepared, diverse health care workforce is vital to improve medical outcomes for all people. The decision to endow this scholarship was data-driven and in direct alignment with the mission of the University.”
To establish this scholarship, FNU will designate $2.5 million to provide $100,000 in scholarships per year. This will be used to deliver ten $10,000 scholarships annually. Additionally, the fund will grow over time from investment and ongoing fundraising targeted for scholarships.
The new scholarship joins a comprehensive list of financial support for FNU’s students. Through the generosity of its supporters and donors, FNU will provide nearly $500,000 in endowed scholarships to students in 2021.
“These scholarships are particularly important because, on average, despite our comparatively low tuition rates, many of our students graduate with nearly $60,000 in student loan debt,” Dr. Stone said. “Through awareness, fundraising efforts, and scholarships, we are committed to helping alleviate that burden. We want our graduates to be able to fully focus on being essential healthcare providers in their communities. However, due to the startling health outcomes for these specific groups, we knew we needed to address the needs of these particular students.”