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Lander University Receives Gift from Self Regional Healthcare to Establish Nursing Scholarship Program

officials at new nursing lab
Pictured, from left, at Lander University’s newly opened Nursing Skills Simulation Center: Sharon Walb, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services, Self Regional Healthcare; Donald H. Scott, chair, Lander University Board of Trustees; Matthew Logan, president and CEO, Self Regional Healthcare; Richard Cosentino, president, Lander University; and Holisa Wharton, dean, Lander University’s William Preston Turner School of Nursing. Photo by Laura B. Wood

Lander University and Self Regional Healthcare today announced the creation of a new nursing scholarship program at the University, established through a transformational endowed gift from the health care provider that will energize Lander’s nursing program and help address the nation’s growing need for highly trained nurses. 

The Self Regional Scholars Program will provide substantial scholarships annually to 15 of Lander’s highest performing junior-level nursing students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, community involvement and career potential, among other characteristics. As part of the gift, Self Regional Healthcare’s name will also be proudly displayed alongside Lander on the University’s future, state-of-the-art nursing facility and the recently opened nursing simulation center.

“This is monumental for our institution, our students and our community,” said Lander University President Richard Cosentino. “Lander University and Self Regional Healthcare have an enduring partnership through health care and nursing education, and this gift reaffirms our shared commitment to providing our region with quality health care and health care professionals.”

Dr. Matt Logan, SRH president and CEO, said, "We are very excited about this opportunity to partner with Lander University to support the nursing program there. This funding from Self Regional will make an already strong nursing program even stronger. It's vital to the health and wellbeing of our community that in the decades ahead we have a reliable source of well-trained and high-quality nursing talent right here in the Lakelands, and we are so grateful for partners like Lander University working hard to see that this need is met."


Fulfilling a Critical Health Care Need

The gift comes at a time when the health care industry is facing an unprecedented shortfall of qualified, baccalaureate-prepared nurses. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), a number of factors – including nurses nearing retirement age, changing patient demographics, and increasing stresses leading to burnout – are contributing to this national shortage, which is expected to hit the U.S. South and West regions hardest through 2030.

Closer to home, a 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration ranked South Carolina fourth in the nation for states predicted to have a nursing shortage in the next decade. This trend has only been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Self Regional Scholars Program aims to curb this shortfall by building a strong pipeline of qualified nursing graduates for community and regional hospitals and health care facilities. Using a holistic application process, the Self Regional Scholars grant selection committee will each year choose 15 upper-level junior nursing majors to receive the $10,000 award, with preference given to students from Greenwood, Laurens, Edgefield, Abbeville, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties (GLEAMNS).

The one-year scholarship award is for juniors; and as seniors, Self Regional Scholars would be automatically accepted into Self’s already established and highly successful extern program.

“The Self Regional Scholars Program further expands Lander’s academic-practice partnership with Self Regional Healthcare, and provides Self with an additional year of contact with our best and brightest nursing students,” said Dr. Holisa Wharton, dean of Lander’s William Preston Turner School of Nursing. “The program will also help Lander expand its efforts to recruit and support diverse students from the GLEAMNS region, in the hopes that they will begin their career as baccalaureate-trained nurses in our local communities."

This new scholarship program also comes on the heels of a revamped vision and mission for the School of Nursing, which includes “several bold and transformative innovations designed to enhance nursing education, promote synergy between public health and hospital nurses, and increase the public health workforce,” Wharton added. “Our graduates will use clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills as competent, flexible, transformative professionals to meet the complex healthcare needs of the 21st century.”


Bringing Greater Visibility to a Longstanding Partnership

Self Regional Healthcare’s gift also secures exclusive naming rights for Lander’s recently announced future nursing building, as well as the University’s new Nursing Skills Simulation Center (NSSC), formerly known as the American Legion Building.

The NSSC opened earlier this semester and contains four teaching-learning labs that can accommodate 80 students per session. In addition, the NSSC has three practice labs that students can use for group practice sessions or clinical skill remediation. Bedside computers will allow for video-based instruction, simulated virtual patient encounters and electronic health record simulations, and Wharton said the goal is to bring additional technologies online soon – such as augmented reality and virtual reality training.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new simulation lab is being planned, as well as a groundbreaking ceremony for the future nursing building, which will be constructed with funding provided by the South Carolina General Assembly. Those dates will be shared with the community soon.

“Our state legislators believe in the importance of quality education and quality health care. Lander University and Self Regional Healthcare are well-respected, trusted leaders in these fields,” said Lander University Board of Trustees Chair Don Scott. “Having Self Regional’s name on our state-of-the-art nursing education facilities is a very visible symbol of our longstanding alliance, and our commitment to serving the diverse needs of our local communities.”

As Lander University gears up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding, “we also celebrate the partnerships we’ve made along the way with organizations such as Self Regional,” said Lander Vice President for University Advancement Mike Worley. “This partnership further strengthens Lander’s signature nursing program, allowing Lander to train, and Self Regional to recruit, more quality nurses for our region.”