Soap Opera Nurse Campaigns to Raise Half Million to Boost Nursing Pipeline

Roni Robbins

February 16, 2022

Sonya Eddy

Playing a nurse on TV has sensitized actress Sonya Eddy to the current plight of nurses. Eddy, who has long played nurse Epiphany Johnson on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital, took to Twitter recently with a stated goal of raising $500,000 for a scholarship for nursing students.

"Every day, I play a nurse on TV," Eddy said in her social media post. "Over the years, I've heard from thousands of real nurses about how hard their job is. Now with COVID, #WeNeedMoreNurses and we need them now. I'm leading a new campaign to provide scholarships to nursing students. You in?"

https://twitter.com/TheRealSonyaEd/status/1488955807501012992

She directed readers to a We Need More Nurses GoFundMe donation page set up in mid-December by San Francisco nurse Alicia Gentile, RN, to benefit the nursing scholarship fund of the Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association. Gentile states on the GoFundMe page that she works in a San Francisco hospital emergency department and is a recipient of the scholarship. At press time, the fund had raised more than $62,500 toward its initial $200,000 goal. Neither Eddy, nor Gentile, responded to a request for an interview.

FNSNA Executive Director Diane Mancino, EdD, RN, told Medscape Medical News the scholarship money is "very much needed" to offset the nursing shortage and struggles of healthcare workers during the pandemic. "It's great that people have come forward and recognized the issue and put money forward to help solve it."

Mancino said of Eddy. "She is someone with a lot of personal integrity. That's important when you ask people for money…She's not a registered nurse, but she is empathetic and understands the problem and expressed it very clearly and is willing to encourage people to take action."

In her 2-minute Twitter video, Eddy spoke about the struggle of nurses during the pandemic.

"We are putting those at risk whose entire lives are dedicated to protecting ours. And not only is there a nursing shortage, but…the nurses we do have on the front lines are actually being asked to come into work even if they are infected with COVID-19." She emphasized that no one should be put in that position.

"And it comes down to this: We need more nurses…We are going to get more people to nursing school so we can create a new generation of nurses and finally give the nurses we already have a well-deserved break."

Of the scholarship, Gentile said it provided the financial help she needed to finish her degree. "I was simply unable to provide for myself as there weren't enough hours in a day to work and go to classes…Without that scholarship I would have never become a nurse and now I am on a mission to help them raise more money, so more people like me can enter the nursing profession."

She also spoke about the pandemic as an ED nurse. "I have seen so much pain, fear, and tragedy during the pandemic. I have worked 18-hour days, overnight shifts, weekends, and early mornings. I have held the hands of those who are taking their last breath and consoled loved ones who said their last goodbyes. I have seen births of babies and miraculous recovery from severe injury and health. Every day, I go to work, knowing that I am here to help people get through this, help families overcome the most difficult of times, help fellow nurses, doctors and medical staff perform at their best."

More nurses are needed, though, she stressed, and the scholarship fund will help accomplish that. 

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