$10 million gift to U of M aimed at transforming health care delivery through nursing

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Together a Minnesota-based foundation and the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing are stepping up to address an acute shortage of primary care providers, rising health care costs and the rapidly growing needs of an aging population by committing to educate an additional 500 advanced practice nurses over the next 10 years.

The visionary $10 million gift announced today by the Bentson Foundation is designated for scholarships for new students in the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The gift will infuse the region with more doctorally-prepared nurses in family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, midwifery, nurse anesthesia and other fields. 

“We believe the focus of this gift can have a transformational effect on health care access, costs, quality and outcomes, particularly for underserved and rural populations,” said Judi Dutcher, executive director of the Bentson Foundation. 

The University’s competitive three-year Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is the highest-level degree for nurses who intend to practice or lead in health care delivery. The University launched the graduate degree program in 2007, which is now the largest DNP program in the nation among programs with a classroom component. Graduates can diagnose and treat complex and chronic conditions, prescribe medication, manage and use electronic health record data, coordinate care, refer patients to specialists and manage a caseload of patients in a range of primary care settings. 

“This is the future of high quality and accessible health care. New models of effective care delivery require every health care professional to work collaboratively and make full use of their education in practice,” said Aaron Friedman, M.D., the University’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School. “The gift is both visionary and a vote of confidence in our School of Nursing’s capacity to deliver.”  

The gift, the largest of its kind, responds to a national demand to increase the number of advanced practice nurses in the field and is part of a strategy to address the mounting health care access pressures across the country. The gift, the largest of its kind to support what is a national demand to increase the number of advanced practice nurses in the field to address the mounting health care access pressures across the country. A 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine on “The Future of Nursing” called for a doubling of the number of doctorally-prepared nurses between 2010 and 2020.

“This gift positions the University of Minnesota School of Nursing to grow not just in size, but in the quality of its educational experience, as it provides innovative leadership and clinical opportunities to many more students,” said Connie White Delaney, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the School of Nursing. “The state and region will feel the positive impact.”  

The University is matching the Bentson Foundation gift with an additional $2 million in capacity-building funds for teaching, advising and clinical oversight of students entering the DNP program.  

Facts about the $10 million Bentson gift to the School of Nursing

  • To be fully awarded in scholarships over 10 years beginning fall 2014
  • Is the largest known scholarship gift to a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the country
  • Is the single largest gift ever to the School of Nursing
  • Will provide scholarships for approximately 50 additional students per year for 10 years

About the School of Nursing

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is ranked among the nation’s top nursing schools. It is a leader in nursing research and produces 55 percent of the advanced practice nurses and faculty in Minnesota’s public and private nursing schools. It is the oldest continuously-operated, university-based school of nursing. The School of Nursing is one of six schools and colleges in the Academic Health Center, one of the most comprehensive facilities for health professionals in the nation, fostering interdisciplinary study, research and education. For more information, visit www.nursing.umn.edu.

About the Bentson Foundation

The Bentson Foundation was started in 1956 by Larry and Nancy Bentson to support a variety of philanthropic causes throughout Minnesota and the region. The Bentson Foundation and the family have a 35-year history of supporting the University of Minnesota and its students. In addition to this $10 million commitment, the foundation’s benefactors established a University-wide Bentson Scholarship Program with a $10 million gift in 2003, which was augmented in 2012 by the Bentson Foundation with a $3 million gift. The foundation has also provided gifts for TCF Bank Stadium, a new simulation center at the School of Nursing, and the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – totaling $5.2 million.  Both Bentsons are graduates of the University of Minnesota, and their daughter, Laurie Bentson Kauth now chairs the foundation.