• Renown Health Foundation
  • Donation
  • Nursing
  • University of Nevada, Reno

Celebrating More Than 150 Years of Nursing, First Nevada Hospital and Nursing School Award First Jerry Smith Student Tuition Support

November 07, 2023

Dr. Brian Erling and Dr. Cameron Duncan stand with nursing students

Donors, Orvis School of Nursing at University of Nevada, Reno and Renown Health create history by awarding tuition assistance to 29 nursing students and creating a future academic and career pipeline.

The University of Nevada, Reno has officially begun its yearlong sesquicentennial celebration (October 2023 and through October 2024). Today, a celebration was held as donors, Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing awarded 29 nursing students with tuition support as part of the Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic-Practice Partnership established with the Renown Health Foundation. The Practice Partnership is named in honor of the late Jerry Smith of the Nell J. Redfield Foundation and supported by a generous lead gift from the Redfield Foundation and Stephanie Kruse, owner of KPS3 and chair of the Renown Health Foundation Board as they work to create a sustainable nursing workforce in northern Nevada for years to come.

Kruse made a generous planned gift to the Renown Health Foundation and the Renown Nursing Excellence Endowment Fund. This was the lead gift for the endowment, after a significant cash gift to the Nursing Education Fund last summer. Kruse of Reno was recently awarded the prestigious 2023 Trustee of the Year Award from the Nevada Hospital Association for her exceptional leadership; professional excellence; outstanding achievements; innovative accomplishments and extraordinary compassion in caring for the community.

The Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic-Practice Partnership recipients receive funding for tuition, books, and nursing fees, along with a guaranteed career in nursing with Renown Health following graduation and license obtainment. Eligible University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing students, Nevada residents and those committed to working at Renown for at least three years post-graduation who are interested in applying for the tuition support can find the application in Canvas, University of Nevada’s learning management system.

“Despite steady growth in the number of new nursing graduates from Nevada nursing programs and registered nurses moving to Nevada from other states, our state is in need of additional registered nurses simply to meet the increased population growth and demand,” noted Brian Erling, MD, MBA, President & CEO of Renown Health. “The daughter of a nurse and a former nurse herself, Stephanie understands the importance of attracting and retaining nurses within our healthcare systems. Stephanie has made a significant and lasting contribution by helping to train and grow the next generation of nurses and we so appreciate her service, and her many contributions to Renown and our community.”

"Since our University first welcomed students to classes in 1874, the institution has been a place where dreams can be realized for the good of all. We are incredibly grateful for the Gerald ‘Jerry’ Smith Nursing Academic-Practice Partnership,” Brian Sandoval, President, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) said. “The tuition support not only impact the lives and dreams of the nursing students being honored today, but positively influences the overall health of our community by ensuring that excellent healthcare professionals stay right here in northern Nevada.”

“Jerry Smith had a strong belief in community collaboration, and we are beyond proud that this partnership is named in his memory. He would be thrilled to see the impact these gifts are having on these nursing students today,” said Greg Walaitis, Chief Development Officer for Renown Health Foundation. “Stepanie Kruse works tirelessly to improve access to better health and human services, and she is now encouraging others to join the fight by donating to the Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic-Practice Partnership fund at Renown to help fund additional tuition assistance and support nurse education for our state. Her goal is to be able to provide full support to each of the 192 students in the Orvis School of Nursing program each year.”

According to a white paper published by the Nevada Health Workforce Research Center (the Center) in December 2022, analysis by the Center revealed persistent, widespread health professional shortages in Nevada. Despite steady growth in the number of new nursing graduates from Nevada nursing programs and registered nurses moving to Nevada from other states, the Center estimated that Nevada currently needs over four thousand additional registered nurses simply to meet the national population-to-RN average. The partnership allows the Orvis School of Nursing to expand its graduating classes by 8 additional students a year.

“At Renown, we take pride in placing an emphasis on education and career development. Partnering with the Orvis School of Nursing to create an academic pipeline is imperative for addressing the nursing shortage in Nevada,” said Melodie Osborn, Chief Nurse Executive at Renown Health. “Renown Health and the Orvis School of Nursing’s collaboration has been longstanding, and accomplishing this milestone reaffirms our partnership and our long legacy that both organizations have to nursing and education.”

In addition to announcing the Practice Partnership, the Orvis School of Nursing has merged the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program with the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This merger has expanded the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program from 72 students to 96 students admitted twice per year. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program now admits a total of 192 students in the program each year.

“We are excited to be accepting our first class of Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic-Practice Partnership nursing students and to be increasing the number of nursing students who can enroll in the Orvis School of Nursing’s BSN program,” said Cameron G. Duncan, Interim Dean of the Orvis School of Nursing. “It’s integral for nursing students to get hands-on experience in an environment that places an emphasis on quality and excellence, which is why we’re proud to collaborate with Renown Health. We are so appreciative of Stephanie and the generous donors who will make education possible for students who might otherwise not be able to pursue a career in nursing.”

Founded in 1864, Washoe County Hospital (which later became Renown Health) was the first hospital to open after Nevada became a state and is now the state’s largest not-for-profit healthcare organization and #1 hospital in Nevada (US News & World Report). Founded in 1956, the Orvis School of Nursing (OSN) is the oldest school of nursing in the state and committed to serving the healthcare needs of the people of Nevada through excellence in teaching, research, and service. In 2021, Renown Health affiliated with the University of Nevada Reno, School of Medicine creating the state’s first integrated health system.

About Renown Health

Renown Health is the region’s largest, locally governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 associates, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination, and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown is currently hiring great physicians, nurses and associates for careers in service; apply at renown.org/careers and volunteers to assist patients and their families at renown.org/about/volunteers.

About University of Nevada, Reno

The University of Nevada, Reno, is a public research university that is committed to the promise of a future powered by knowledge. Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University serves 21,000 students. The University is a comprehensive, doctoral university, classified as an R1 institution with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Additionally, it has attained the prestigious “Carnegie Engaged” classification, reflecting its student and institutional impact on civic engagement and service, fostered by extensive community and statewide collaborations. More than $800 million in advanced labs, residence halls and facilities has been invested on campus since 2009. It is home to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and Wolf Pack Athletics, maintains a statewide outreach mission and presence through programs such as the University of Nevada, Reno Extension, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Small Business Development Center, Nevada Seismological Laboratory, and is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Through a commitment to world-improving research, student success and outreach benefiting the communities and businesses of Nevada, the University has impact across the state and around the world. For more information, visit unr.edu.

Media Contact

Renown Public Relations

Email Us! news@renown.org

Related News

View All Press Releases