Door County Medical Center (DCMC) is proud to announce it has named three recipients for the 2023 Jody Boes Scholarship. Those recipients are Stacie Jacquet, RN BSN and Care Manager; Jenna Jennerjohn, RN BSN, CPHQ and Quality Director; and Michelle Johnson, RN BSN and Outpatient Services Manager.
The Jody Boes Scholarship was established with the goal of providing financial support to nurses pursuing advanced degrees at either the Masters or Doctorate level. This year, each recipient will receive $10,000 to put toward their education. The scholarship will be awarded on May 6, which is both National Nurses Day and the start of National Nurses Week.
Each recipient currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). With assistance from the Jody Boes Scholarship, Jacquet will pursue her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Education from Walden University, Jennerjohn will pursue both an MSN in Nursing Leadership and Healthcare Systems and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Grand Canyon University, and Johnson will pursue an MSN in Leadership and Management, also from Grand Canyon University.
"It is an honor to receive the Jody Boes Scholarship," Jennerjohn remarks, "Jody's passion for nursing and vision to provide nurses with opportunities to advance their careers through her scholarship program is admirable." "This scholarship," adds Jacquet, "affords me the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to improve patient care, and allows me to continue to improve on the education and training I currently provide with the nursing assistant program, CPR, and Heartsaver classes."
Why choose three scholarship recipients?
In the past, the hospital has named one Jody Boes Scholarship recipient. This year, as Jody Boes was reviewing scholarship applications, she found herself wonderfully perplexed. "As I looked through each of the applications, I thought, 'My goodness, I know all three of these applicants. They all came into the organization as new grads, when I was Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President.' I remember meeting with them," she adds, "because I would always meet with every new nurse that joined the organization to discuss our nursing philosophy, and to get a feel for their goals and for where they would like to go with their careers."
"Now, it was very apparent that they had each grown and accomplished so much," Boes continues. "Moreover, each applicant had clearly defined goals ahead of them—they knew what they wanted to do. All three of them had a very strong nursing philosophy," she remarks, "and all three articulated it passionately. That type of strong, passionate nursing philosophy," Boes adds, "is the type of foundational characteristic that we look for in our applicants."
"I thought, 'This is great, but now how do I choose?' Each applicant was a little bit different from the others, but their commitment to nursing, to continuing education, to the Door County community, and to DCMC was both strong and exceptional—they really complimented each other. At that point it occurred to me, 'What better time than now to give these three exceptional leaders the funds to go forward with their continuing education.'"
The importance of the Jody Boes Scholarship
What was once a looming problem, became more serious and more urgent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit—namely, there are not enough nurses in the United States to provide care for all of the country's patients. Put differently, where the nursing shortage had once been a merely a numbers game—more nurses and patients were entering retirement age than were joining the workforce—the strain placed on healthcare systems by the pandemic led to active resignations by a burned out nursing workforce, in effect, adding another wave to an already critical shortage.
While much of the attention placed on the nationwide nursing shortage has focused on finding solutions for bringing new nurses into the workforce—nurses who would receive an undergraduate degree—less effort has been aimed at increasing the number of nurses with graduate degrees.
There are a number of reasons increasing the number of nurses with advanced degrees is as important as increasing the number of new nurses generally. For example, nurses with graduate degrees:
Fill leadership positions: "Quality leadership is extremely important for our organization," says Brian Stephens, President and CEO of Door County Medical Center. "In particular, master's level nurses make great leaders—they're just a group of people that you can really count on to be very effective."
Become independent nurse practitioners: "Nurse practitioners have the authority to treat patients and prescribe," notes Stephens. "Often," he adds, "they help fill roles where we can't find physicians."
Become nurse educators: "There's a real shortage of nurse educators right now," Boes remarks, noting that "It's gotten to the point where there are more people aspiring to become nurses than can actually get into nursing programs because there are not enough instructors."
"These are the leaders that are developing our next generation of bedside nurses," Boes remarks, adding, "They make such a difference in helping develop the future of this organization and are integral to the future of health care."
About Jody Boes
In 1969, Jody Boes childhood dream of becoming a nurse was realized when, at the age of 18, she received a scholarship of $800 from a local hospital auxiliary to attend Bellin's nursing program. With the help of the scholarship, Boes embarked on a career in nursing that spanned nearly five decades. During that time she became the first Registered Nursing First Assistant in Door County and was deployed to Heidelberg Germany as a Captain in the United States Army nurse corps serving active duty during Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
For thirteen years, until her retirement in 2017, Boes was Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Administration at Door County Medical Center. During her tenure, Boes' leadership skills and the workplace culture she established at DCMC—one that focused on developing quality relationships with colleagues, being truly trustworthy, and leading with humility—resulted in increased nursing engagement scores and improved patient outcomes.
Remembering Bill Welter
In 2014, while still serving as Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Administration, Boes helped oversee the care that Pam Welter received at DCMC. Both Pam and her husband Bill Welter were particularly impressed by the skill of the nursing team.
"A couple of years later, as I was nearing retirement," Boes recalls, "I was talking to Bill, and he said to me, 'So Jody, what do you want your legacy to be?' I thought about the scholarship I had received," she continues, "and mentioned that I would like to support the nursing community in a similar way. And he said, 'Well, what if Pam and I established a scholarship in your name?' So," she remarks, "that's how the scholarship was founded."
In December of 2022, Bill Welter passed. "Bill had such a big personality and was such a generous man, " Boes remembers. "Bill and Pam provided the initial funds to get the scholarship started," she continues, "and then this past November, not long before his death, Bill contributed a significant amount to the scholarship again. The last time I saw him was around Thanksgiving, and he had already made the donation, but he never mentioned it. Both Bill and Pam," Boes comments, "have been so giving and so humble."
"As a working mom with four daughters," Johnson says, "this scholarship will assist my family with the financial obligation of continuing higher education." Jacquet echoes that sentiment. "The Jody Boes Scholarship," she remarks, "has significantly relieved my family and me of the financial burden of pursuing a graduate degree. As a result, I can focus on my learning and professional growth rather than feeling pressured to finish quickly to keep the tuition cost low—in short, I can take full advantage of my educational opportunities."
"Many nurses are juggling a full-time job and responsibilities at home and in their personal lives," Stephens remarks. "So," he adds, "if there is anything that we can do at work to help relieve some of that financial burden, hopefully that helps them make that decision—that despite the burden that they carry, pursuing an advanced degree will be something they want to go forward with and continue to work on."
Jennerjohn notes the effect scholarship programs like these have on the healthcare field in general. "Healthcare is rapidly changing and nurses stand at the frontlines with patients," she says, adding, "We're able to see and feel the impact the current delivery of care has for patients, and understand the ways in which we need to improve. Advanced nursing education," she continues, "provides nurses with the skills and knowledge needed to lead change and find innovative ways to improve the health of individuals and populations."
"This has been a humbling opportunity both professionally and personally," Johnson says. "I feel extremely blessed and honored to be awarded the Jody Boes' Scholarship along with other amazing nursing candidates."