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Truly a Wyoming Company

September 16, 2020
nursing students in a hallway
Doctorate of Nursing Practice students Lauren Hamilton and Ryan Russi discuss coursework in the Health Sciences Building.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming supports Wyoming nurses through scholarships.

 

By Tamara Linse 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming has been helping the people of the state cover the costs of health care since 1945, and today, it is the only domestic health insurance company within the state. 

“All of our customers—also our family members, our friends, our neighbors—live in Wyoming,” says Diane Gore, president and CEO. “We are truly a Wyoming company. It is very meaningful to us to be a good corporate citizen.”

Gore has been with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming for 35 years. She began her career there one week after graduating from the University of Wyoming.

In 1990, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming established the Caring Foundation of Wyoming—to promote the good health and well-being of its neighbors. “We’ve always tried to focus on health-related items that impact the entire state,” Gore says.

The foundation’s support is a story of success. The initial focus of the foundation was to make sure the children of the state had access to and coverage of health care. The state then implemented the Kid Care CHIP program, which provides affordable health coverage for children. And so the Caring Foundation turned to supporting women’s wellness visits, mammograms and other health concerns. Then, along came the Affordable Care Act, which  mandated that everyone have coverage. It passed in 2010, came into full force in 2014 and eliminated the need for this support.

And so Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming and the Caring Foundation asked themselves, “What else can we do to help with health care in the state of Wyoming?” They had been supporting health profession scholarships for a number of years, but this was an opportunity to really step up and support future health care providers.

Coincidentally, at this time, the UW Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing was developing the ReNEW program (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming). This statewide program allows nursing students to earn their Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degrees starting at Wyoming’s seven community colleges and then completing them through UW with online courses and practicums while continuing to stay in their home communities.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming loved this idea and wanted to support these hard-working future nurses. “They have Wyoming roots and Wyoming ties, and chances are they will stay in their local communities,” Gore says. In 2016, the Caring Foundation funded seven $1,000 scholarships, one at each of the community colleges, for students in the ReNEW program. 

“By teaming up with the school of nursing, we’re just trying to make sure people can get the health care they need no matter where they are in Wyoming,” Gore says.

Then Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming asked, “What else can we do?” The answer was adding three—and now five—$10,000 scholarships that support students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, with at least two of those five in the DNP mental health track. The UW DNP program sets a new standard for advanced practice nursing education and comes in two tracks—the family nurse practitioner or the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

“Wyoming has always been special to me, lately even been more so,” Gore says. “We’ve been so fortunate. Wyoming has been hit by the virus and the economic impact that the virus has caused, but I still see people coming together and trying to make the best of things. I really think it’s the spirit of the people in Wyoming that does bring us all together.”

Gore adds, “I love that—one Wyoming, one university, one state. There’s no place else in the country that can say that.”

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