Help is on the way for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Hunt School of Nursing undergraduate nursing students facing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a $20,000 donation from the AT&T Foundation.
The gift will assist undergraduate nursing students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to temporary hardship or unforeseen emergencies related to the pandemic.
Some undergraduate nursing students or their family members have lost income after being laid off or furloughed from part-time or full-time jobs. They may also face unexpected childcare expenses due to school closures.
“AT&T is committed to the El Paso community and honored to support these undergraduate nursing students during this critical time,” said J.D. Salinas, Assistant Vice President, AT&T-Texas. “Many of these students will stay and work in El Paso after they graduate from nursing school therefore helping them succeed is critical for the future of this entire community.”
The funds will help undergraduate nursing students stay on track to complete their degrees on time. Some are already caring for patients in the El Paso community as part of the clinical rotations required for their degrees. After graduation, many of these new nurses will remain in El Paso to serve the community, which faces a critical shortage of health care professionals.
To date, some 200 TTUHSC El Paso students have either requested or are expected to request emergency financial assistance. University officials estimate the amount of emergency aid required by students could reach as much as $500,000, as the need is expected to continue in the wake of the pandemic. These funds will assist with basic needs, including rent, groceries, personal items and other essentials.
Crystal Apodaca, a student in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the Hunt School of Nursing has been a recipient of funds from the Student Frontline Emergency Fund.
For Apodaca, going back to school was a huge decision for her and her family as she waited for more than a decade to do so because she is a single mom.
“Leaving my full-time job was something that we had contemplated and decided was worth the sacrifice for me to finish school,” Apodaca said. “That was stressful in itself, but we felt prepared. Then COVID happened, and our lives, like everyone’s across the nation, completely changed overnight. We were not prepared to navigate the additional costs of food, increase in utilities, childcare costs, books, supplies, personal protective equipment etc. We have been truly blessed with the support from the school and the donors to the Student Frontline Emergency Fund, it really has provided so much relief for my family. I’ve been able to keep my focus on my studies and keep my family safe which is more than I could ever ask for.”
TTUHSC El Paso’s Student Financial Aid Office estimates that 100 undergraduate nursing students will be helped by the AT&T Foundation donation. Generous donations from community partners like the AT&T Foundation help increase the percentage of students who graduate on time, easing the shortage of nurses in the Paso del Norte region, especially during these unprecedented times.
The state of Texas is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 16,000 registered nurses by 2030, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
An aging baby boomer population, increasing rates of health issues such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as well as the recent COVID-19 pandemic are some of the major drivers of the nationwide demand for nursing professionals.
As of 2019, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 600 students, with 90% of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation.