Laurice “Laurie” Ferris, an emeritus faculty member of the School of Nursing has designated a bequest to the School that will support graduate students in nursing with the goal of developing the next generation of nurse leaders.

In her establishment of The Laurice Ferris Endowment for Nurse Leaders, Ferris hopes to apportion financial aid to graduate students in the Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation Program.

The program places students entering the undergraduate BSN program directly on the path to obtain a PhD in nursing. It aims to prepare these nurse scholars with the substantive and methodological knowledge, vision and personal acumen to study, lead, and change the shape and future of health care.

The pursuit of leadership is an attribute close to Ferris’ heart, as she feels that a PhD in nursing places nurses on a similar level as other health professionals, thus granting nurses more visibility and credibility within the health care setting.

“Nurses need to be at the table when healthcare policy decisions are being made, to advocate for nursing and to advocate for the patients they care for,” Ferris says, “To get to the table, nurses need the education, and credentials.”

But while Ferris never obtained a PhD—of no detriment to her, she added—she enjoyed a successful career in nursing innovation and research. While living in Ohio, she established a program of education for nurses who were interested in cardiovascular and critical care. She also established several teaching centers in northwestern Ohio counties where she educated cardio nurses to care for their patients in the ICU. Upon her arrival at the UNC School of Nursing she established similar programs for nurses across North Carolina.

She directed the School’s continuing education division for many years and was an active leader in the North Carolina Nurses Association. She participated in a three-month U.S. Health and Human Services grant in Washington, D.C while carrying out her responsibilities as director of continuing education. This experience was most valuable in examining the impact of national policies in the healthcare field.

Ferris arrived at Carolina before a PhD in nursing existed. Now that doctoral education is in place, she hopes her endowment will make it easier for students to earn the degree and become future nurse leaders.

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