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UR Medicine Extends Tuition-Free UR Nursing Scholars Program Through 2027

  By Nora Williamson
  Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the School of Nursing are thrilled to announce the extension of the groundbreaking UR Nursing Scholars program for an additional three years, committing to preparing new nurses through Summer 2027. This initiative will provide a tuition-free nursing education to nearly 300 additional students, significantly bolstering efforts to address the nursing shortage in the Rochester region.

A group of UR Nursing Scholars students, from the Summer 2024 admitted cohort.
The Summer 2024 cohort of UR Nursing Scholars attend Admitted Student Day at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.

Originally launched in Fall 2023, the UR Nursing Scholars program offers a full-tuition scholarship for students who apply and enroll in the Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing (ABSN) program. In exchange, students commit to a three-year work term at participating UR Medicine hospitals after passing the NCLEX-RN® licensure exam.

“By offering a tuition-free education, we are breaking down barriers and creating a pathway for more individuals to pursue nursing as a fulfilling career.” 

— Dean Lisa Kitko, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN

With this extension, the UR Nursing Scholars program will enroll nearly 100 students per year with an early commitment to the three-year work term. The program’s growth reflects its overwhelming success and the urgent need to attract new nurses to the health care workforce.

“Extending the UR Nursing Scholars Program enables us to significantly increase our contribution to the health care workforce and continue to provide life-changing opportunities for our students,” said Dean Lisa Kitko, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN. “By offering a tuition-free education, we are breaking down barriers and creating a pathway for more individuals to pursue nursing as a fulfilling career.”

New York State faces an aging population and a projected shortage of nearly 40,000 registered nurses by 2030. The UR Nursing Scholars Program directly addresses this challenge by creating a pipeline of highly trained nurses ready to enter the workforce and serve the community.

“This program leverages the strengths of our academic medical center and aligns with our mission to expand access to quality care,” said David C. Linehan, MD, URMC CEO and dean of the School of Medicine & Dentistry. “By training and retaining nurses within our own facilities, we ensure that our hospitals can meet the growing needs of our community.”

UR Nursing Scholars Program Success & Impact

Mona Sepulveda, a UR Nursing Scholars student in the School's skills lab.

Since its inception, the UR Nursing Scholars program has attracted and admitted more than 150 students from diverse backgrounds and with varied professional experiences, enhancing the richness of the nursing community at UR Medicine hospitals.

The program has made remarkable strides in increasing diversity within the nursing workforce. Currently, 41 percent of admitted Scholars come from historically minoritized groups, which is more than double the national percentage of registered nurses from these groups. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of admitted Scholars are men, surpassing the national average of 12 percent for male registered nurses, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

These Scholars hail from across New York and the United States, bringing with them degrees in as varied as biology, computer science, and English.

The 12-month, full-time ABSN program includes 700 hours of clinical training across multiple specialties, providing scholars with comprehensive, hands-on experience. Other benefits for students who are admitted to the UR Nursing Scholars program include:

  • Guaranteed Employment: Scholars are guaranteed a nursing position with participating units at UR Medicine hospitals – including Strong Memorial, Highland, and Thompson – upon graduation, ensuring a seamless transition into the workforce.

  • Comprehensive Support: Each student has access to robust support services from leading nurse faculty and clinicians to explore and develop their nursing career interests.

  • Diversity and Inclusion: The program continues to focus on recruiting individuals from underrepresented groups in nursing, which enhances the cultural competence and inclusivity of the nursing workforce but also better represents the patients served by URMC.

Mona Sepulveda, a UR Nursing Scholar, holds a sign that says "My OB Clinical Rocks"Since earning her bachelor’s degree in health and society from the University of Rochester in 1999, Mona Sepulveda ’99 (BS) has pursued various career paths, including teaching middle school science, working as a medical health plan auditor, and serving in the U.S. Navy.

 “As a lifetime health and wellness advocate, I knew nursing was the ideal choice for me,” Sepulveda said. “I chose the UR Scholars program because of the program length and immediate employment opportunities. I am a UR alum and know UR is a fantastic university with strong and rigorous academic standards.”

 Most recently working as a patient care coordinator in Texas, Sepulveda returned to New York State with her family to realize her dream of serving as a frontline health care worker. Last fall, she joined the first cohort of UR Nursing Scholars and began the Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing program.

“The program has been challenging and rewarding,” she said. “Every time I reach a roadblock, I know once I cross it, I will become that much stronger as a future nurse.”


Currently Accepting Applications

To be eligible for full tuition coverage through the UR Nursing Scholars program, students must first apply to and be admitted to the ABSN program. Applicants will be notified of their UR Nursing Scholar status along with their ABSN admission decision.

The School accepts applications for the 12-month, full-time ABSN program three times per year. The application deadline for the spring semester (January 2025 start) is July 1, 2024. Applications for the summer semester (May 2025 start) will open on July 16 and are due Nov. 1, 2024.

Prospective students are encouraged to visit for program eligibility and other details about the UR Nursing Scholars program, and for application and prerequisite details. 

Categories: Accelerated Programs, Alumni

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