El Pomar scholarships advance rural health care


Nursing scholarships provided by the El Pomar Foundation benefit Adams State University nursing students and nurse educators, with the objective of improving health care services in the San Luis Valley.

Awarded through El Pomar's SLV Regional Council, a total of $111,000 a year is administered through the Adams State University Foundation. The scholarships are available to SLV residents who intend to practice long-term in the valley, according to Tammy Lopez '91, '00, executive director of the Foundation. Financial need is also a consideration.

The fund dedicates $45,000 annually to undergraduate students in Adams State's Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, while $66,000 is targeted to those pursuing advanced degrees at any university as nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or physician assistant. Recipients must commit to five years of service in the San Luis Valley upon their degree completion. For this academic year, 9 students and 4 nursing faculty members received scholarships.

Former Adams State President, Dr. Tom Gilmore, an 11-year member of the regional council, said the group identified improved health care as one area that could have a broad impact on the region. El Pomar's undergraduate scholarships were established after discussions with SLV Health revealed a need for more bachelor's level nurses. The graduate awards were added in order to somewhat offset a physician shortage with nurse practitioners and physician assistants, Gilmore explained.

"We have had outstanding results, most of the students we funded completed their degrees and stayed in the region to practice," he said.

Dr. Shawn Elliott, director of Adams State's Department of Nursing, said, "We greatly appreciate the financial support El Pomar gives our nursing students through these scholarships. Such support helps us to train qualified providers for rural health care."

Based in Colorado Springs, the El Pomar Foundation funds grants and programs that enhance, encourage, and promote the current and future well-being of the people of Colorado.

By Julie Waechter