Hospital Auxiliary awards first-ever nursing scholarships

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Working a full-time job and going to school is never easy. Just ask Victoria Anderson and Adam Grinfield, both of whom have been working as patient care technicians and attending nursing school at the same time.

Employees Victoria Anderson (left) and Adam Grinfield are the first recipients of the UAB Hospital Auxiliary nursing scholarships. 

“It’s a challenge,” Anderson says. “But you make sacrifices to get things you want out of life.”

Anderson, a PCT in the Spain Rehabilitation Center, and Grinfield, a PCT in Neurology ICU, want to be registered nurses. Anderson wants to be a wound care nurse and eventually open her own adult day care. Grinfield wants to become a nurse practitioner in neurology.

Their drive, desire and accomplishments were enough to grab the attention of the UAB Hospital Auxiliary, which recently awarded its first two $2,500 scholarships to the two of them to assist them in continuing to pursue their career ambitions.

“It’s just a big blessing,” Grinfield says. “I love working at UAB because of the reputation it has and the opportunities I have been afforded. This scholarship is just another example of that. I’m so grateful.”

“I’m so excited,” Anderson adds. “School is hard. The expenses are hard on you. It’s overwhelming to receive this scholarship.”

The UAB Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship Program was established this past fall to address the challenges of work, home and school faced by many UAB Hospital and Health System employees when they choose to further their education and work at the same time. Often, this choice creates financial hardships that might seem overwhelming.

Through the years, many hospital employees have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in nursing. The Auxiliary raised enough money to fund two scholarships for up to seven semesters to cover the costs of tuition, books and educational supplies at the educational institution of the applicant’s choosing. Beth Clarke, Auxiliary Scholarship Committee member, introduced the existence of the scholarship to the Hospital Management Forum in April and encouraged all managers to share the good news with their employees.

More than 50 applications were sent out, says Susan Frantz, past president of the Auxiliary and member of the Scholarship Committee. Thirteen were submitted by the June 3 deadline; six finalists were chosen to interview.

Awardees have “a passion for nursing”

“It was a hard choice, and if we had had enough money, all six would have gotten a scholarship,” Frantz says. “Victoria and Adam received high praise from their managers and lots of support from their family, friends and co-workers. When they interviewed, for some reason they just stuck with us. You could tell they really have a passion for nursing.”

Larry Dean, nurse manager in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, wrote a nomination letter on behalf of Grinfield, who has worked the night shift in the NICU since September of 2009 while attending Jefferson State Community College. Dean says Grinfield works well with his peers and seeks out the opportunity to be in the room during busy times. “I will hear families compliment his diligence and attention to the patient’s needs,” Dean says.

While rounding with his staff, Dean learned that Grinfield was struggling with school expenses. Dean suggested Grinfield apply for the Auxiliary scholarship. Dean’s staff was excited to learn of his selection.

“We were able to present the scholarship to Adam at shift change a few weeks ago,” Dean says. “Adam was totally surprised and the staff also were equally as excited that he received this scholarship. Nursing is such a rewarding profession. The majority of people who enter this profession have a drive to want to help others. Adam definitely reflects that caring attitude. Our entire staff shares in his joy in this award.”

Anderson started her employment at UAB in January 1991 as a unit support specialist and was promoted to patient care technician in June 1999.

Anderson is often observed doing more for everyone around her. She initiated the employee monthly birthday board, decorates the unit for holidays for the patients and families and often gives her patients what supervisor Deborah Walker, nurse manager in Spain Rehab, call a little extra TLC. “It’s not uncommon to find Victoria styling or braiding her patients’ hair or soaking their feet for extra comfort,” Walker says.

Anderson decided she wanted to pursue her nursing degree in 2005. She worked extra shifts, saved her money and will graduate with her nursing degree from Lawson State in May 2012.

“Victoria demonstrates all of the core values of UAB,” Walker says. “She is a caring individual who owns her practice by being an accountable PCT. She demonstrates integrity for she is always honest and respectful of everyone. She works well with coworkers, patients and families. And she is innovative in accomplishing her goals and providing quality care to our patients.”

The UAB Hospital Auxiliary was established in 1949 to address unmet needs of patients, visitors and staff at the then-named Hillman Hospital. Since that time, the Auxiliary has contributed thousands of volunteer hours and made significant monetary contributions to the hospital, including this new scholarship opportunity.

The scholarship is open to all full-time or part-time UAB Hospital or Health System employees if they have completed a minimum of one year of service and are in good standing. Recipients are required to maintain their employment at UAB while pursing their degree. Recipients also are asked to commit to continuing their employment at UAB Hospital or in the Health System for one year following graduation.

Auxiliary member Jennifer Joyce chaired the UAB Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship Committee. Others instrumental in the establishment of the scholarships were Amanda DuBois, manager of Volunteer/Guest Services; Charlotte Beeker, administrative director of Food and Guest Services; Jordan DeMoss, associate vice president of UAB Hospital; Velinda Block, chief nursing officer and senior associate vice president of UAB Hospital; and Carol Hunter, president of the UAB Hospital Auxiliary.

Two scholarships will be awarded again next summer.