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The Lauder Fellows program is meant to train nurses to work in and with underserved communities.

Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Penn's School of Nursing recently announced its inaugural cohort of Lauder Fellows who are part of a new program aiming to create a nurse practitioner workforce that serves typically underserved communities.

The group of 10 fellows comes from a variety of backgrounds, from practicing nurses in the Philadelphia area to a former captain of the Army Nurse Corps. They are the first to participate in the new tuition-free Leonard A. Lauder program and will study full time, eventually earning their nurse practitioner degrees.

The two-year program resulted from the largest gift to an American nursing school — a $125 million donation from 1954 Wharton graduate Leonard A. Lauder. 

“Now more than ever, the country needs greater and more equitable access to quality primary care — and highly skilled nurse practitioners are the key to making that happen,” Lauder said at the time.

Lauder serves as chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies, and he and his family have given extensively to Penn in the past, including the contributions to the construction of Lauder College House and multimillion-dollar donations to create and subsequently renovate the Lauder Institute.

“The impact this program will have in communities that face barriers to care cannot be overstated — and all of us at Penn Nursing are grateful to Leonard A. Lauder for his vision and commitment to improving health and health care in areas where it is most needed,” Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel told Penn Today.

Fellows will complete at least 50% of their clinical education at sites providing direct patient care and will serve an underserved community for at least two years after graduation, according to Penn Today.

Penn Nursing has once again earned the No. 1 ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 ranking of undergraduate nursing programs, after receiving it in last year’s inaugural rankings.