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Press Release

IBC Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of Its Nursing Internship Program

Philadelphia, PA - August 3, 2009 - Independence Blue Cross (IBC) today celebrated the fifth anniversary of its summer nursing internship program with a breakfast to honor 21 students working at IBC and area community health center clinics.

In 2004, IBC developed the Nurse Scholars Program to address the severe threat posed to the quality and cost of health care by the growing nursing shortage in southeastern Pennsylvania. The program provides financial assistance to future nurse educators and undergraduate nursing students. The company added a nursing internship program the following year to provide nursing students with valuable hands-on experiences to supplement their academic program.

"Nurses are the backbone of our health care system, and everybody suffers when there are not enough nurses or not enough experienced nurses in our hospitals, clinics, and health facilities," said Steve Fera, vice president, Government and Social Mission Programs, who leads IBC's Nurse Scholars Program. "Helping people get a nursing education and providing opportunities for clinical and other practical health industry experience is just one piece of the solution, and we're happy to be part of that."

A unique aspect of the internship for many students is learning about the health insurance business from the inside out by working alongside IBC case management nurses in different departments. This experience helps familiarize students with this important part of the health care system and prepares them for possible careers outside a clinical setting one day.

"Through their IBC nurse mentors, our students gain an appreciation for patient advocacy as a skill that doesn't necessarily start or end at the patient's bedside," said Fera.

To date, IBC has provided $7.25 million for more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate scholarships to future practice nurses and nurse educators at 31 local nursing programs in the Philadelphia region, along with 88 internships, and continues to strongly advocate for increased public awareness about the need for more nurses and nurse educators.

Two IBC interns nurse were eager to share their very different, but equally moving, experiences about why they are pursuing careers in nursing.

'Doctors cure disease; nurses care for sick people.'

When Lindsey Goldhagen entered the University of Pennsylvania three years ago, her heart was set on becoming a doctor. However, after being diagnosed and hospitalized with liver cancer and experiencing first-hand the kindness and compassion of the nurses who cared for her, she decided to pursue nursing instead. "Doctors cure disease; nurses care for sick people," she said, adding that as a nurse, she hopes to help others in the same way her nurses helped her. She will be pursuing pediatric oncology. Lindsey is an IBC nursing intern this summer and works at a local health clinic.

'Never give up hope'

Julian Black has wanted to be a nurse his entire life and enrolled in nursing school following high school. However, after becoming a father, he put his schooling on hold to work full-time and support his growing family. Now as the oldest of his four children heads to college in pursuit of her dreams, 39-year-old Julian is finally achieving his, too. He is weeks away from graduating with his LPN from District 1199 (c) Practical Nursing Program, and he is interning with IBC this summer. "I have dreamed about becoming a nurse for a very long time and I can't believe I'm almost there," says Julian, who also worked full-time as a carpenter while attending nursing school and wants to become a nurse practitioner.  "More than anything, I want my kids to know that they can accomplish anything they want, as long as they never give up hope."

About the Independence Blue Cross Nurse Scholars Program

In 2004, IBC created the Nurse Scholars Program to increase the current supply of nurses and nurse educators in southeastern Pennsylvania and to provide long-term solutions that alleviate the root causes of the shortage. The program addresses the well-documented shortage of nurses and nurse educators in the region by: providing scholarships to nursing students at 31 graduate and undergraduate nursing school programs in the five county area, and by developing companion initiatives to further support students, faculty, and the nursing profession-namely The IBC Nurse Faculty Program and The IBC Nursing Internship Program.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.