Ruth Boughman Oesch, a 61-year-old former Illinois nurse, is offering $50,000 scholarship to support future healthcare leaders and innovators.
The Ruth A. Oesch Endowed Scholarship will be offered through Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State.
Redbirds Rising, an initiative of the Illinois State University (ISU), has achieved record fundraising since it’s launch, in 2013. The fund supports creating learning and financial opportunities from scholarships to leadership programs, off-campus internships and service-learning projects.
The campaign’s goal is to reach the $150 million mark by June 2020. This is where Oesch and other sponsors come into play.
As someone who grew up in a low-income family, Oesch experienced the power of scholarships first-hand. “I was the oldest of four children,” Oesch said. “It helped my parents and I a great deal. Without my scholarship, I don’t know whether I would have been able to complete my degree work.”
This sense of gratitude for her education and career was the driving force behind Oesch’s achievements.
As a nurse, Oesch turned a doctor’s lounge into the first post-operative recovery room in the Bloomington-Normal area. She also helped to develop the community’s first Intensive Care Unit.
Oesch often traded her nursing hat for one of a mentor, working with higher education institutions to help new graduates navigate the healthcare profession.
She also served as president of the Mennonite Nurses Alumni Association and as a member of the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing Board of Trustees.
Through her donation, Oesch wants to help supply the healthcare system with highly skilled medical professionals.
“I want to do something to ensure that as I get older and my family gets older, there are well-educated nurses to help us with everything we encounter as we become consumers of healthcare,” Oesch said.
To qualify for The Ruth A. Oesch Endowed Scholarship, students must own a Registered Nurse license and currently pursue a bachelor of science in nursing or a master’s of science in nursing.
The shortage of nurses in the U.S. has been an ongoing issues for the past decade. The crisis has far-reaching consequences. There are more reports of staff neglect in nursing homes than ever before. Plus, caring for sick patients for long shifts makes for nurse burnout.
In an attempt to fix this problem, nursing homes and hospitals are now competing for newly minted professionals. As a result, nursing is projected to be one of the top growing professions during the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The main reasons for this growth?
For one, the healthcare space is moving away from inpatient services and focusing more on preventive, outpatient care. Chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity are on the rise and so is the baby-boomer population. Nurses will play a pivotal role in how the healthcare system will respond to these transformations.
Registered nurses make on average around $70,000 per year, but some professionals can earn more than $100,000 per year. The BLS data revealed that job openings for nurses and healthcare support occupations will exceed 1 million by 2026. By 2024, there will be 3.2 million nurses in the healthcare, says the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
Oesch, who knows the system first hand, is confident that nursing has a “very bright future.” “Nursing will continue to play a prominent role in healthcare throughout the world,” she said.