Anthem scholarship supports nursing students, increases access to care in rural Ohio

Graduate students who complete clinicals in designated counties are eligible

A new scholarship for UC College of Nursing graduate students aims at improving health care access and advancing health equity in rural Ohio communities by increasing much-needed primary care access in such areas. The Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarships provide the college with $75,000 to support advanced practice nursing students in specified specialties who complete clinicals in designated rural or underserved counties in Ohio.

Research published in the past year in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows more people in rural America die from chronic health conditions and substance abuse than in suburbs and cities, and the difference in those death rates has tripled in the past 20 years. The gap is attributed to poor access to care and foundering economies, among other social determinants of health. The pandemic has also exacerbated inequities in quality of care between urban and rural areas — from access issues to lower COVID-19 vaccination rates among rural seniors compared to those in urban areas.

These scholarships will open the door to education for students who are not only passionate about caring for others but have made a commitment to practicing nursing in rural communities.

Angela Abenaim Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Nurse practitioners represent a valuable resource in improving access to high-quality care in these areas. More than 85% are trained in primary care and account for 25% of health care providers in rural practices. In addition, nurse practitioners are more likely than physicians to settle in rural areas and to care for vulnerable populations, including the poor and uninsured and those living in rural areas, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

“Nurses play a key role in improving health care outcomes by providing accessible, safe care for all. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Anthem in addressing health inequities through a multifaceted approach, which supports our commitment to embracing diversity in its fullest sense through innovative practices and strategic partnerships in the surrounding community,” says Denise Gormley, PhD, RN, FNAP, who served as the college’s interim dean and recently retired.

David Stemen headshot

David Stemen received the college's first Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship

David Stemen, APRN, CNP, is the first UC College of Nursing student to receive the Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship. He says the financial support will help him achieve his goal to provide needed care to residents in his community.

“I have lived in the rural county of Van Wert, Ohio, for most of my life and have been a nurse in my community for more than 20 years, practicing as a nurse practitioner in the local emergency department for the past four years,” Stemen says. “By pursuing a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate, I will be able to provide much needed quality health care to patients in outpatient/office settings in my local rural community. I’m thankful for this thoughtful and generous gift.”

Additional scholarships will be awarded to first- and second-year nurse practitioner students enrolled in one of the following programs:

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Psych-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with a focus on addressing mental health and drug addiction
  • Midwifery and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with a focus on addressing infant mortality
  • Adult-Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with a focus on addressing trauma care. 

The scholarship will assist students with transportation costs, housing and other living expenses for those traveling to rural practice sites.

“We are creating a pathway to equitable access to higher education opportunities for students who aspire to serve as health care professionals in rural areas across Ohio,” said Angela Abenaim, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Medicaid Health Equity Director in Ohio. “These scholarships will open the door to education for students who are not only passionate about caring for others but have made a commitment to practicing nursing in rural communities.”

Featured image at top: Krista Maddox, Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs; Angela Abenaim, Ohio Medicaid Health Equity Director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Denise Gormley, Retired Interim Dean; and Christine Colella, Retired Interim Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Programs.

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Considering a graduate degree to become a nurse practitioner? Learn about our advanced practice programs:

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