Fuld Trust Awards $2.5 Million Grant to School of Nursing

April 25, 2006

The University of Rochester School of Nursing’s effort to attract more talented people to the profession has received a significant endorsement with the renewal of a major grant by a national foundation.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust, HSBC Bank USA, Trustee has awarded the School of Nursing $2.5 million to support scholarships and the development of new programs. In 2002, the Helene Fuld Health Trust gave the School $2.2 million. The two grants are the largest gifts from foundations to the School in almost 25 years.

“The first grant from the Fuld Trust helped us change the way nurses are educated and attract many people to the profession who otherwise might not have brought their talent and compassion to nursing,” said Patricia Chiverton, Ed.D., dean of the School of Nursing. “The nursing shortage is about quantity and quality. The grant renewal will enable us to continue to address both issues.”

Since 2002, the School has awarded Fuld scholarships to 130 people in the accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Another 30 have been selected for the upcoming year. Students have identified scholarship support as the single most important factor in their ability to pursue an accelerated nursing degree.

 “Before pursuing nursing, I spent 12 years in marketing,” said Helene Menchel, R.N. “With the generous support of the Fuld Trust, I could transition out of my executive role in a marketing firm and jump into nursing head first, earning a second bachelor's degree in one year. Without Fuld, I would still be in night school part-time, trying to crawl into nursing over a five-year period. I had little confidence that such a long transition would come to fruition.”

Despite some signs of improvement in the nursing shortage, recruitment of new talent to the profession remains a matter of national importance. With the Helene Fuld Health Trust grant renewal, the School will be able to increase enrollment in the accelerated program by about 50 percent over the next five years.

The School’s master’s and doctoral programs also need the Fuld scholarship support. The need for more highly educated nurse leaders to serve in clinical and academic settings to enhance health care and to train the next generation of nurses remains significant, School officials say.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust grant will enable the School to redesign some programs and solidify faculty recruitment, improving the student-teacher ratio and the clinical experience for students. The School also will continue to develop new curriculum, including, for example, integrating approaches to patient safety and health care quality improvement.

“We must develop programs that celebrate and expand nursing’s role as an equal partner in the health care system,” Chiverton said. “We must empower nurses to create and implement quality improvements at the bedside.”

The Helene Fuld Health Trust grant has helped the School of Nursing attract students from across the country and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Here are a few examples of Fuld scholars:

-- Wade Luttge, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel from North Pole, Alaska, who served in Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq.

-- Patti Megerle, a veteran systems analyst for Eastman Kodak Co. who managed large software product development projects.

-- Paul Sabin, a Utah native who has served as an executive for several managed care and health insurance companies.

-- Makeeda Mendoza-Booker, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo and Long Island University who previously worked as a human resources professional for a law firm.

-- Megan Sheldon, a native of South Dakota who recently worked as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Genetics and Teratology and also as a clinic assistant and HIV counselor for Planned Parenthood's Greater Boston site.

While some Fuld scholars have moved to other institutions after completing their studies, many have remained in Rochester. After graduation in May 2004, Menchel joined Strong Memorial Hospital’s Medical Oncology Unit as a registered nurse.

“I have found one of the best teams in the profession, some of the best patients any nurse could hope for, and I'm staying!” Menchel said. “I wish that every person could hear, answer and enjoy their calling as much as I have with nursing. I truly enjoy coming to work to help, learn, and grow. Without Fuld, I would not have already served or been touched by more than 1,100 patients and their families. I am forever grateful.”

The Helene Fuld Health Trust is the nation's largest private funder devoted exclusively to nursing students and nursing education. In 1935, Dr. Leonhard Felix Fuld and his sister, Florentine, created a foundation in honor of their mother, Helene. In 1965, the foundation was converted to the Helene Fuld Health Trust, and in 1969 HSBC Bank USA (formerly Marine Midland Bank) became its corporate trustee. HSBC Bank USA is currently responsible for overseeing and administering the Fuld Trust.

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