OU School of Nursing granted Jonas Philanthropies to support doctoral nursing students

Rachel Yim, Senior Reporter

“Nurses are the backbone of the American healthcare system,” Donald Jonas, co-founder of Jonas Philanthropies, once said.

To further improve the educational environment for nursing students, Jonas Philanthropies – national philanthropic funder of graduate nursing education – has partnered with schools of nursing across the U.S. including that of Oakland University. In partnership with nursing schools, it financially supports high-potential doctoral nursing scholars.

This year, the OU School of Nursing has recently been awarded a grant of $15,000 by Jonas Philanthropies. This grant is used to fund the scholarship of a doctoral nursing student at OU. The honor of the scholarship this year went to Aaronica Phommalee, student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at OU.

“It is a prestigious honor to have been awarded the Jonas Nurse Scholar Scholarship,” Phommalee said. “I am proud to be representing Oakland University as a Jonas Nurse Scholar.”

Growing up surrounded by her mother and her sister who are both nurses, Phommalee acquired a strong desire to pursue a career in nursing as an undergraduate student. She has nursing experience in areas of stroke and medical-surgical nursing, and has worked as a diabetes educator. Besides being in the DNP program at OU, she is currently teaching future nurses as an Assistant Professor with the RN to BSN program at Mercy College of Ohio.

The scholarship will support Phommalee with her current DNP project which focuses on Type 2 diabetes and the impact of implementation of a virtual-based group diabetes education program on improving patients’ glycemic control (HbA1c), diabetes self-care knowledge and diabetes related emotional distress.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to network with other nurse scholars from around the country while enhancing my leadership skills,” she said. “The support given towards the completion of my DNP degree will be important to my future in educating nurse leaders and addressing the ongoing healthcare needs of our community.”

Despite the severity of the nursing shortage – especially after COVID-19 pandemic – an adequate educational curriculum is critical to produce qualified nurses to shape the future of healthcare with appropriate and efficient patient care. Both Jonas Philanthropies and OU School of Nursing continue to support their aspiring nurses aim to satisfy these goals.

Improved educational curriculum will also help enhance the healthcare environment for underrepresented groups and reduce the health disparities in our society. Having worked closely with minority populations in underserved areas, Phommalee said healthcare systems have to holistically support communities through chronic diseased focused access to healthcare services, educational programming and outpatient resources.

“I have witnessed first-hand the difference this type of support can make in the lives of patients; providing needed empowerment to better manage their health, which could lead to improved health outcomes and healthier communities,” she said.

Phommalee hopes to become more involved with local community-based diabetes education efforts through working with clinics to provide volunteer support. She also hopes to publish some of the work she’s completed through her DNP program coursework and present her work it at local research symposiums to continue to share new knowledge with peers and future nurses.

“To the nurses of tomorrow, I would encourage them to always be open to new opportunities to learn and grow along their educational journey,” she said. “It is important for them to stay connected to their communities through nursing honor societies and leadership programs, as the networking opportunities and information that can be obtained from experienced nurse leaders is immensely beneficial to cultivating a passion for providing nursing care that will help to improve community health outcomes.”