Tammy Wallace, Melissa Saul, Doris Ching, Wendy Morriarty, Danny Cup Choy and Judy Oliveira

University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu nursing students wishing to practice in Hawaiʻi’s underserved rural communities have a new scholarship opportunity. The ʻOhana Health Plan, through the WellCare Community Foundation, recently donated $10,000 for a scholarship fund for pre-nursing students studying culturally competent ways to work with Native Hawaiian communities.

The scholarship will be awarded to full-time students enrolled in the university’s Pre-Nursing Pathway and Partnership program. Preference will be given to students who have worked with or have an interest in working with low-income patients, especially in rural communities that have large Native Hawaiian populations. Nearly one-quarter of the state’s residents are considered Native Hawaiian and as a group suffer from the largest health disparities. The Pre-Nursing Pathway and Partnership program offers hands-on learning and leadership opportunities with a strong focus on transcultural education and caring for individuals and families through direct community engagement.

Hawaiʻi’s rural communities already face a shortage of nurses and studies show that the nursing profession will be hit with a wave of retirements in the next decade,” said Wendy Morriarty, president of ʻOhana Health Plan. “ʻOhana Health Plan is proud to offer this scholarship to help educate the next generation of nurses with the skills to address the unique needs of Native Hawaiians and other rural residents.”

“The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu is grateful to ʻOhana Health Plan for supporting our program and providing our students with scholarships and financial assistance,” said Chancellor Doris Ching. “This partnership allows us to promote health care that is inclusive of Native Hawaiian values and practices to our students. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and we’re honored to be the recipient of ʻOhana Health Plan’s generosity.”

The first scholarships will be awarded in April for the 2016–2017 academic year. The number and amount of awards will be determined by the selection committee.