Finding a fit with giving goals

Photo of Eileen Meyer and Bruce Burns

By Jennifer Lollar

Bruce Burns, MD, first became a philanthropic donor to the UAB School of Nursing when he endowed a scholarship in his wife’s name to honor her services as a nurse and nurse practitioner for her 40th birthday.

Eileen Meyer, DNP (MSN 1997, DNP 2017), is an accomplished nurse practitioner at UAB, having been lead NP for cardiothoracic surgeons Albert Pacifico, MD, and James Kirklin, MD, before moving into the role of Assistant Director of Advanced Practice Providers, which includes an advocacy and policy aspect allowing much of her time to be devoted to scope of practice issues.

Inspired by the experience of meeting their first scholarship recipient at the School’s annual Jean Riley Tomlinson Scholarship Luncheon, Burns and Meyer worked with their attorney and financial advisor to create a planned gift from their estate. Though some is designated to help continue to support Eileen’s scholarship, the majority was undesignated—until now. Together they have chosen to support The Leadership and Health Policy Initiative at the School to ensure it can remain impactful well into the future.

The Leadership and Health Policy Initiative is a new effort that is launching this fall with the first cohort of Health Policy Fellows. Its goal is to develop nursing and health policy leaders and provide them with the knowledge and ability to advance the profession, education, practice and health through legislative and other advocacy work.

“To see the snowball effect of our giving over the years to the UAB School of Nursing has been deeply rewarding, especially with the Nurse Practitioner Wall that we named in honor of the exceptional work and impact of nurse practitioners,” Burns said. “We believe that supporting the School’s Leadership and Health Policy Initiative fits in perfectly with our goals.”

Meyer has been involved with the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama since 2017. She first served as Vice President of Policy from 2017-2020 before transitioning into her current role of Senior Policy Advisor. While in these positions she has been involved in multiple regulatory and legislative actions resulting in expansion of scope of practice, including the passage of Alabama Act 2018-474, expansion of the FTE ratio through regulatory rule change, changes in Alabama Medicaid billing codes and procedural reimbursement, and multiple statewide procedural protocols.

“Nurses have the ability to shape policy and are in a prime position to advocate for their patients, it is just a matter of engaging our nurses and channeling our efforts in one voice to our legislators,” Meyer said. “I believe Dean Shirey’s vision for developing political competence in our nursing workforce is an exciting, innovative, and much needed aspect of nursing practice.”

“Eileen and Bruce are not only amazing leaders in their own right, but they are also exceptional advocates for quality health care and vital supporters of nursing, nurse practitioners and our School,” said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Maria R. Shirey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FNAP, FAAN. “Leadership and health policy are passions of mine and part of my life’s work and I am grateful for their support, both as Dean and a leadership scientist.”

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