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December 2, 2002

Nursing School receives $5M gift to fund Segue Program

By Tia Webster

An innovative program to increase the nation’s supply of university-trained nurse leaders has received an extraordinary boost with the commitment of $5 million from The Helene Fuld Health Trust to the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

The largest single gift in the school’s history, these funds will establish an endowment to support the Nursing Segue Program—a specialized program for individuals who have earned bachelor’s degrees in other fields. The school was one of two nationwide to receive this grant.

“Students who come to nursing with degrees from other fields bring a unique capacity for caring,” said nursing Dean Marla Salmon. “Their grounding in arts and sciences positions them to lead nursing in improving health care. The Helene Fuld Health Trust gift enables these students to realize their enormous potential, which in turn is a gift to all society.”

With the nation experiencing an unprecedented nursing shortage, nursing school administrators see the Segue program as a unique way to produce more nurses and expand the leadership pool within the nursing community. After three years of study, Segue graduates earn both bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in nursing.

The outcome of a Segue pilot program demonstrated its success and also highlighted the need for scholarships to support exceptional, qualified students.

“The Fuld gift has generously addressed this need,” Salmon said. “From the pilot program, we know that careful selection of students based on both clinical performance and academic success is necessary. Our undergraduate faculty will work closely with the students to select clinical placements that will enhance their capacity for clinical excellence and leadership while moving towards a nursing practice specialty.”

Through the nursing school’s Office of Service Learning, students will have the chance to live in and provide health care services to migrant farm communities, join a health care expedition to Haiti or Cuba, or conduct health screening and education programs at an inner city Atlanta high school.

“The Fuld gift enables us to provide scholarships for students—a critical element for the Segue Program’s success,” said Anne Bavier, assistant dean of development/alumni and external relations. “Typically, students who enter school for a second baccalaureate degree have exhausted their eligibility for federal loans; because they have usually been employed and have income, their eligibility for student loans from any source is jeopardized. Thus, these endowment funds are a resource to insure the participation of dedicated students.”

The $5 million endowment will be distributed in $1 million annual installments for five years. The Fuld Health Trust granted an additional cash amount to aid the first group of students while the endowment continues to grow. In recruitment efforts for the incoming undergraduate class of 2003, nursing faculty began to promote the Segue Program and Fuld Scholarships to those with baccalaureate degrees in other fields.

“Declining enrollments in nursing schools, drastic changes in the financing and organization of health care systems, and rapid technological advances in all aspects of health care contributed to the current nursing shortage,” Salmon said. “The Segue Program will produce more nurses and a leadership corps with a broad background to find innovative solutions to our health care challenges.”

The grant also fits in well, Bavier said, with the “school’s successful strategic plan to build on our strengths, in this case being able to tailor our educational offering to the experience and socia concerns of our students. It further adds to our success in building financial resources for students while operating in a cost effective manner.”