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BSN Student Named HRSA NURSE Corps Scholar

Jessica Underwood

Jessica Underwood, a junior in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, has been selected as a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) NURSE Corps Scholar.

The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program provides scholarships to nursing students in exchange for a two-year service commitment at an eligible health care facility with a critical shortage of nurses. Scholarships are awarded competitively (less than 10 percent of the applications received are awarded) and help students with tuition and other school fees.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve a community that I may never have come in contact with if it weren't for the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program,” said Underwood. “I am thankful for the opportunity to provide nursing care to communities with inadequate access to care and excited for the challenges that this role may bring, including identifying creative solutions to complex socioeconomic health issues, providing unbiased, compassionate nursing care, and finding ways to lessen any health disparities within the communities I serve.” 

Underwood, who just started her second semester of nursing courses, is on track to graduate in December 2015.

“It is my goal to become a nurse practitioner and I have no doubt that this experience will add to my depth of knowledge, which I hope will allow me to build meaningful, health-promoting relationships with my future patients. It is my dream to help people break through any barriers that may be keeping them from leading healthy, meaningful lives, and I believe that this program will give me a very special first opportunity to do so in my career.”

NURSE Corps Scholarship program participants have the opportunity to increase access to care by providing nursing services to health care facilities where there is a critical shortage of nurses. The program provides funds to support nursing school tuition and fees; expenses for books, clinical supplies, and instruments; and, a monthly stipend to cover living expenses.

“Financially, this scholarship will help my husband and me tremendously, as we continue to pursue our medical and nursing degrees. As a second degree student (music), I have found it difficult to identify ways to fully cover my out-of-state tuition, which has caused a lot of stress over how I might continue to pay for my nursing degree,” explained Underwood. “With this scholarship, I am able to pursue my dreams with limited financial stress, allowing me to focus on my studies and the exciting journey ahead.”

Underwood noted that she believes in the NURSE Corps Scholarship Program and its mission: To improve health and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce and innovative programs. “I can't think of a better way to tackle some of these more difficult health care and student debt issues. I am proud to be a NURSE Corps Scholar and can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me!”

“Jess is very talented, and I was confident she would be a great candidate,” said Professor Ellen Cram, PhD, RN, assistant dean for undergraduate and pre-licensure programs. “The HRSA program requires a service payback commitment; notably, she and her husband (a med student in Des Moines) are exploring the possibility of making a positive impact in the state by fulfilling that obligation in rural Iowa.”

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The purpose of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) NURSE Corps Scholarship Program is to provide scholarships to nursing students in exchange for a minimum two-year, full-time service commitment (or part-time equivalent), at an eligible health care facility with a critical shortage of nurses. More information can be found at


Posted On: 
Sep 23rd, 2014