Nursing Scholarships Provide Opportunity At A Time When Needed Most

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Sandra Hohner was so inspired by her grandmother's stories of working as a nurse, she wanted to follow in her footsteps.

Sandra said you get to know people on a different level when you're caring for them.

She got a job working at Stormont-Vail, but she faced a hurdle in getting to college: money.

"It was a big obstacle," she said, "(affording school while) raising a family and having to keep the bills paid.

Colette Carson understands Sandra's passion. She worked 30 years as an ER nurse.

Colette says she loved the pace of the ER and never knowing what was going to come through the door next. She said she also felt value in being important in saving someone's life or helping someone through a tragedy.

"I would recommend nursing to anyone," she said.

Colette found inspiration during her career in a friend who faced her own obstacles. Colette called her the best nurse she ever worked with, even though the woman's high school counselor once told her she shouldn't even consider a career because she was Native American.

To honor her friend - and help others pursue their dreams - Colette recently established a nursing scholarship to assist minority students. She says she felt blessed with her career, and felt she was in a position where she could perhaps help someone take their first step up the ladder of a nursing career.

Providing the assistance to get more future nurses in the job pool couldn't come at a better time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of employed nurses to jump 26 percent by the end of this decade. But with an aging population leading to more patients, and as much as half of the current nursing work force planning to retire by 2020, experts also expect the U.S. to be 260,000 nurses short by 2025. Experts say that is twice as large as any nursing shortage since the 1960s.

Sandra knows how much scholarship dollars will help because she's finally getting her shot at nursing school through Baker University's program at Stormont.

"Without the scholarships I'm receiving, I probably wouldn't be here right now," she said.

If you're interested in sponsoring or supporting a nursing scholarship, contact Jane Mackey at the Stormont-Vail Foundation, 785-354-6851.