Master’s student Larissa Gregory, a pediatric nurse at VCU Children’s Hospital in Richmond studying to be a pediatric-acute care nurse practitioner at UVA, was one of 42 scholars chosen by the Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. (NEF) from 699 applicants around the country.
Gregory, who lives in Richmond and was awarded the NEF’s Estelle Massey Osborne Memorial Scholarship, calls the award “incredibly helpful.”
"When you think about taking time off work to study, travel, maneuver staying in hotels—all the things you don’t necessarily think about when you sign up for graduate school, there’s a lot of stress associated with being in this dual role for three years. The award is an honor—and just super, super helpful.”MSN student Larissa Gregory, a future pediatric acute care nurse practitioner
“It means so much, especially thinking about working and being in school at the same time,” she said. “I love the program, but, when you think about taking time off work to study, travel, maneuver staying in hotels—all the things you don’t necessarily think about when you sign up for graduate school, there’s a lot of stress associated with being in this dual role for three years. The award is an honor—and just super, super helpful.”
Gregory became a nurse after experiencing health issues as a youngster and admiring the care she received from nurses. “I’ll never forget them,” she said. “They were calming, and kid- and teenager-friendly, and didn’t talk to me in big, scary words that would've made me more stressed. They met me where I was, and I remember thinking, ‘I wish I could do that for other people. How can I do that for people?’”
Enter nursing. Gregory first earned an undergraduate degree from VCU School of Nursing before arriving at UVA School of Nursing in 2021. In addition to being a nurse and a graduate student, Gregory, a mentee of professor Tracy Kelly, was also the Virginia Nurses Association director at large for new graduate nurses, a role in which she advocates for nurses who are new to the profession “and really need to be uplifted, to feel the love.” Currently the blood administration safety lead on her unit, she mentors new nurses and is a member of the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners.
Currently Gregory works in acute care pediatrics in Richmond, a step-down unit from the pediatric intensive care unit, seeing patients with physical trauma, post- and pre-surgery. Her ultimate plan is to specialize, however, in caring for youngsters on neurology and oncology units after graduating in 2024.
NEF’s application process is rigorous: applicants must have a high GPA, provide evidence of leadership and scholarship, write an essay, and submit at least three references. Applicants are then reviewed by two nurse NEF board members, and an evaluation committee determines the finalists from the scores of reviewers.
The NEF seeks applicants for its graduate nursing student scholarships during its application period, October 1, 2023, through February 1, 2024. More information is available online at the organization's web site.