WVSU, UniCare Health Plan of WV Announce Establishment of Scholarship Program

WVSU, UniCare Health Plan of WV Announce Establishment of Scholarship Program
INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- West Virginia State University (WVSU) and UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia today announced the establishment of a new scholarship program at the university to expand the number of frontline workers in the state, increase access to care and improve health equity in West Virginia’s underserved areas. 

The UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia Health Equity Scholarship will fund five students at the university in the nursing and social work programs. UniCare gave a $250,000 community investment grant today to establish the new scholarship and enable more students to provide care in rural and diverse communities across the state.

“We are thankful for this investment from the UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia that will provide meaningful scholarship opportunities for our nursing and social work students,” said WVSU President Ericke S. Cage. “This commitment will help ensure we are meeting the health and well-being needs of the citizens of West Virginia for years to come.”

According to the West Virginia Hospital Association, there were 20% fewer staffed beds in hospitals across the state this past summer compared to August 2020. Of the more than 34,000 registered nurses licensed in the state, 38% are considering retirement. Staffing shortages, coupled with the state’s high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, reinforce the need to expand the health care workforce in West Virginia. 

“UniCare recognizes the importance of investing in the future health care workforce to ensure that communities across West Virginia have access to essential health services to reduce inequities,” said Tadd Haynes, President, UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia. “We are proud to work alongside West Virginia State University to improve lives and communities in every area of the state and ensure institutions on the front lines of healthcare education and training, especially for rural and underserved communities of greatest need, are well supported.” 

The scholarship program will begin with the 2023-2024 academic year and will support students pursing a bachelor’s of nursing degree or a bachelor’s of social work degree. 

Preference will be given to students who intend to practice as a licensed practical nurse or a licensed certified social worker in rural or diverse communities of West Virginia following graduation.

Today’s announcement builds on UniCare’s ongoing efforts to provide fair opportunities for all people to live a healthy life, including a recent National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Health Equity Accreditation, demonstrating UniCare’s commitment to the whole health needs of entire communities who have been historically marginalized, economically and socially.

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About UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc.
UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc., serves more than 200,000 Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries living in West Virginia. UniCare has served Medicaid beneficiaries in West Virginia since 2003 and WVCHIP members in 2021. For more information about UniCare, visit unicare.com/wv and follow the company on Facebook @UniCareWV and Twitter @UniCareWV.
West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
– WVSU –
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