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Jennie Edmundson Hospital Critical Care Unit Nurse Awarded Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation Scholarship

Published: July 28, 2022

Alicia Whitehill, RN, a nurse in the Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital critical care unit, was awarded a $3,500 scholarship from the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation (IHERF), which is supported by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA).

Whitehill, who is enrolled in the RN to MSN program at Nebraska Methodist College (NMC), is one of 60 students from across Iowa selected to receive assistance this year from the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program. Hospital leaders from all parts of the state evaluated scholarship applications from hundreds of students. Applicants were judged on grade-point average, a written personal statement, letters of reference and extracurricular, community and health care-related activities.

“I am so fortunate and thankful for this scholarship and the others that I have received from the Jennie Edmundson Foundation and Methodist Health System,” Whitehill said. “This is such a weight lifted from me, as my tuition for next year will be covered. It will allow me more freedom and energy to put into my schoolwork because I’m not as worried about the finances.” 

Born in Atkinson, Nebraska, Whitehill moved with her mother and grandmother to Council Bluffs when she was in first grade. She graduated from Lewis Central High School and earned her nursing degree at Iowa Western Community College.

Her introduction to the Jennie Edmundson family began at an early age, as both her mom and grandmother worked as CNAs. Whitehill started work as a CNA in 2016.

“When I started as a CNA at Jennie, I got to hear stories about my parents from their coworkers who still work here,” she said. “Things like how my grandma used to walk the stairs during her lunch breaks. Since her passing, now each time I enter the stairwell at work, it brings me a happy memory of her.”

After graduating from nursing school in 2018, Whitehill wanted to have a bigger hospital experience. She returned to Jennie Edmundson in 2019 as a registered nurse and joined the critical care team in May 2020.

“Alicia is an amazing ICU nurse,” said Kyle Kreger, unit director for the critical care unit at Jennie Edmundson. “She provides patients and their families with the utmost compassion all while providing excellent clinical care. Alicia also has a tremendous desire to help those not only in the hospital but in our community as well. I have no doubt that as she furthers her education, she’ll humbly help as many people as she is able.”

As part of NMC’s RN to MSN program, Whitehill will start her graduate level classes this fall in the care coordinator track. 

“Growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for my mom and grandma to work overtime or even two jobs to provide,” Whitehill said. “My grandma, a former teacher, pushed me to do well in school and to participate in many extracurricular activities with the mind-set that I would need scholarships in order to attend college. It gives me peace that I can honor her hard work by earning these scholarships to pursue a degree that I am passionate about.” 

The IHA established the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program in 2004 to help address the shortage of health care professionals and encourage young Iowans to establish or continue their careers with Iowa hospitals. The first scholarships were awarded in 2005, and now more than 685 students have benefited from the program.

In exchange for this financial support, students agree to work one year in an Iowa hospital for each year they receive an award, allowing the scholarship program to help stabilize and enhance Iowa’s hospital workforce.