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

Renown Health and Orvis School of Nursing Announce Academic Partnership Program & Academic Pipeline for Nursing Students

May 24, 2023

Nurses from Renown Health and a group of students from the Orvis School of Nursing pose for a photo.

The longstanding partnership between the University of Nevada, Reno and Renown Health reaches a new milestone with newly established scholarship program.

Today, Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing announced a milestone in the longstanding partnership and a new fund to provide nursing students with full-ride scholarships, and in turn, assist in creating a sustainable nursing workforce in northern Nevada for years to come. The Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic-Practice Partnership established with Renown Health Foundation will provide funding for up to 24 students a year. 

Recipients receive funding for tuition, books and nursing fees, along with a guaranteed career in nursing with Renown Health following graduation and license obtainment. The Gerald “Jerry” Smith Academic Practice Partnership will additionally give recipients the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship at Renown. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be in good standing at the University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing; Nevada residents; and committed to working at Renown for at least three years post-graduation.

The Practice Partnership has been established by the Gerald Smith family and initiated by Stephanie Kruse, Renown Health Foundation board chair. Kruse made a generous planned gift to Renown Health Foundation to 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. The daughter of a nurse, and a retired nurse herself, she understands the importance of attracting and retaining nurses within our healthcare system, and so she decided to honor the memory of her mother and provide funding for others interested in nursing. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous donors who have helped establish the Gerald ‘Jerry’ Smith Nursing Academic-Practice Partnership. These funds will not only impact the lives of the awarded nursing students, but positively influence the overall health of our community by ensuring that excellent healthcare professionals stay right here in northern Nevada. Jerry had a strong belief in community collaboration, and we are beyond proud to name this partnership in his honor,” said Greg Walaitis, Chief Development Officer for Renown Health Foundation

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 affirms our partnership.”

In addition to announcing the Practice Partnership, the Orvis School of Nursing announced its merging of the Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program with the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This merger will grow 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 will now admit a total of 192 students in the program each year.

“We are so excited to increase 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. We are so appreciative of the generous donors who will make education possible for students who might otherwise not be able to pursue a career in nursing.”

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 scholarship can find the application in Canvas, University of Nevada’s learning management 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.

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