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$100K gift will help nurses advance their education

Jere McGaffey

Nurses at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee will have more opportunities for advanced education and training thanks to a generous $100K gift from Jere McGaffey, a longtime donor and former Aurora St. Luke’s board member.

“Experiencing the COVID pandemic and watching it all unfold has given me a feeling of gratitude for how fortunate I’ve been in many ways – and a greater sense of appreciation for health care workers,” shared Jere. “I wanted to give back.”

In particular, Jere wanted to support nurses. His late wife’s mother was a nurse during World War II.

“My mother-in-law took great pride in wearing the nurse uniform and helping people. And my wife knew how important nurses are in providing care and saving lives. They spend the most time with the patients, forming connections and helping to manage the emotions that come with the healing process. Nurses are such an important part of the total care package.”

Jere is also passionate about supporting education. His generous donation will fund the Best Fit for Nurse advancement program at Aurora St. Luke’s. The program will provide nurses the opportunity to explore advanced nursing practice, alternative specialty, and/or leadership roles to facilitate the advancement and retention of experienced nurses.

“It’s an important program, not only for individual nurses but also for society as a whole,” said Jere. “There’s a shortage of nurses across the country and here in Wisconsin. I hope some nurses will even consider becoming professors in nursing because that’s also part of the problem. There aren’t enough educators to teach the next generation of nurses.”

Nurses who join the program will do rotations with different leaders and in different professions, including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nursing professional development practitioners, nursing leadership, nursing informatics, and nursing research. Based on their interest, they will shadow and get exposure to three different areas.

“People deserve to be given the opportunity to work at their highest possible level. I commend Aurora St. Luke’s for adopting this program, and I’m glad to be able to support it. So many patients and families will benefit from nurses having more advanced education.”

Grateful for advancement opportunities

The first cohort of the Best Fit for Nurse advancement program is set to begin in spring 2022, and nurses like April Field and Elizabeth Holtz are eager to participate.

“I would like to develop my nursing career beyond bedside nursing. I take great pride in the fact that I am a strong resource on my unit and coworkers come to me to help solve problems or receive information,” shared April. “I would like to develop these leadership skills and further my education. I think this program will help me see what opportunities Advocate Aurora Health has beyond my current role.”

“Being part of a group, I can gather additional information about areas of interest as well as have a support system and guidance,” added Elizabeth. “I think this program will be beneficial to me as other individuals will help keep me accountable for going back to school and furthering my knowledge and education. I want to help not only my current unit thrive and do better, but I also want to help build future nurses just like my nursing instructors help build me.”

How you can help

The Best Fit for Nurse Advancement program would not be possible without philanthropic support from generous donors like Jere McGaffey.

“I am so grateful to Jere for his donation, which will provide professional development opportunities for nurses looking to advance their career by shadowing various nursing roles to ascertain the role and the impact on patients and families,” shared Chief Nursing Officer Rosemary O’Malley.

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