Nursing, health professions meet with HRSA official

KCON student Mary Stayman-Schenk speaks.
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KCON student Mary Stayman-Schenk speaks.
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Students and faculty members in nursing and health professions had an opportunity to say "thank you" to the federal government when a Washington administrator visited the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

Marcia Brand, deputy administrator for the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, toured CHS on April 11. HRSA has awarded several million-dollar plus grants to the Kirkhof College of Nursing and College of Health Professions.

During Brand’s visit, grant administrators explained to Brand how the money was being used, and students told her how receiving scholarships or stipends made advancing their education possible and easier to balance multiple roles in their lives.

Mary Stayman-Schenk was working as a registered nurse after earning an associate’s degree. One day she had an opportunity to work with a Grand Valley nursing student who made an impression on her.

“She had this confidence and I knew that I wanted a piece of that,” Stayman-Schenk said. “I had wanted to come to Grand Valley but I was not sure if I could afford it.”

Stayman-Schenk was among the recipients of scholarship money from an HRSA grant devoted to increasing the diversity among the nation’s nursing workforce. Elaine Van Doren, associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs, received the grant that allowed an agreement with Grand Rapids and Muskegon community colleges to ease the transition for nursing students to complete a bachelor’s degree by offering stipends and scholarships. Stayman-Schenk and others each received $5,000 to be divided between tuition and other related expenses.

“It took away a lot of the anxiety of starting school again,” she said.

Andrew Booth, assistant professor and program director of physician assistant studies, explained how the department was able to expand the class size in PAS from 35 to 48 since 2011 because HRSA grant money was used to offer student scholarships and hire additional faculty members.

Brand said she was impressed with the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to health care education present at Grand Valley’s nursing and health professions programs.

“As we dialogue about health professions training, it’s so different today from what it used to be,” said Brand. “Going forward, it will become more prevalent that team practice in primary care is necessary and vital to helping revise the health care system.”

A second HRSA grant was awarded to KCON to increase the number of primary care advanced practice nurses through the Advanced Nursing Education Traineeship program. Lucy Ledesma represented the Doctor of Nursing Practice students and expressed appreciation for HRSA funding. Cynthia Coviak, associate dean for nursing research and faculty development, oversees this grant.