Scholarships available to boost number of Suncoast nurses with bachelor’s and higher degrees

Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition focusing on improved health care through assisting students

Image from the SNAC website

The Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) is offering $50,000 in scholarships to encourage more area nurses and prospective nursing students to earn their bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSN) “and ensure safe, high quality nursing care” in Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and Desoto counties, the organization has announced.

“Although decades of research validates the link between BSN-prepared nurses and better patient outcomes, roughly half of all nurses graduating today are becoming licensed RNs through faster, more accessible associate-degree programs to offset a persistent nursing shortage and escalating employer needs,” a news release explains.

“It’s a dangerous trend that not only threatens the quality of patient care, but also undermines the expertise and leadership potential of the nursing profession itself,” said Jan Mauck, former chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and co-chair of SNAC, in the release.

SNAC is a regional coalition of healthcare, academic and community leaders committed to increasing the number of nurses in the region who have BSN degrees and even higher levels of educational achievement, the release points out.

The deadline to apply for the scholarships is March 1. To be eligible, applicants must work at a medical facility within the SNAC region (Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and Desoto counties), live in one of those counties or be a graduate of a high school from one of those counties. Applicants also must meet fulfill the following requirements, the release notes:
• Have submitted an application for acceptance to an accredited nursing bachelor’s degree program.
• Plan to be a full- or part-time student.
• Demonstrate financial need.
• Obtain at least one recommendation from an employer or faculty/instructor.

The amounts awarded vary based on individual needs, with a minimum award of $2,500, the release points out.

Former recipients of SNAC’s nursing scholarships are eligible to reapply for awards in subsequent years, the release notes. Recipients are chosen by the SNAC Selection Committee; scholarships are approved and administered by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

“The Suncoast region is particularly challenged by the limited number of pre-licensure BSN programs here,” the release adds. If not adequately addressed, Mauck said in the release, “the situation will result in entry-level nurses who lack the additional education, preparation and critical thinking skills necessary to address today’s complex health care delivery system.” As point-of-care providers, she added in the release, “nurses constitute the primary surveillance system for early detection of complications and problems in care and are in a pivotal position to initiate actions that minimize adverse outcomes for patients” in all hospital and other health care settings.

“Investing in higher nursing education is one of the best things a community can do to fill those critical roles,” Mauck said in the release. “Fortunately, we live in a community willing to support this scholarship program and help ensure a highly prepared nursing workforce.”

SNAC has granted 36 scholarships totaling $140,000 since 2016, the release adds. Local foundations that have supported SNAC are the Sarah Greer Mayer Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; the Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation, Rita B. Lamere Memorial Foundation and Burrus Foundation.

For information about the scholarships and applications, call SNAC’s nurse navigator at 941-780-1447, email or visit its website at