Twenty years ago, John Shooshan’s life was saved by a doctor at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Now he’s giving back to the health care profession to help it address a chronic shortage of trained nurses.
Shooshan, the chairman of Arlington real estate developer Shooshan Company, and his wife, Marcia, a retired teacher, are giving nearly $1.1 million to Marymount University and Sibley Memorial Hospital to fund scholarships and internships for future nurses. Shooshan is a trustee at the small university in North Arlington.
“I just have a second chance at life,” Shooshan said in an interview.
The program is named in honor of Mark Abbruzzese, the infectious disease specialist affiliated with Sibley who treated Shooshan over the course of 72 hours when he became ill from septic shock after a routine surgery.
The new Dr. Mark Abbruzzese Bridge Scholars Program will launch with the start of the 2022-23 academic year at the end of August. The Shooshans have pledged to donate $550,000 to Marymount over four years and $525,000 to Sibley.
John and Marcia Shooshan chose Marymount because it, unlike many other colleges and universities in Greater Washington, does not have an affiliated medical school or hospital.
Sibley Memorial Hospital, located in Northwest D.C., is affiliated with Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Health System — which has aggressive plans of its own to expand in Greater Washington. The hospital has 318 beds, a 24-hour emergency department, intensive care, nursing inpatient services, and medical, surgical, obstetric, oncology and orthopedic treatment.
But like other health care facilities across the country, Sibley is facing staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic and contending with rising costs associated with recruiting and keeping talent. The scholars program will help it develop a nursing pipeline and address the worker shortage.
The funding will award need-based scholarships to 10 first-year students and five junior and senior students enrolled in Marymount’s Malek School of Nursing. Once the students are in the final semester of their pre-licensure program as seniors, they’ll be considered for the Bridge Scholars Program. The university and the hospital will prioritize applicants that are underrepresented in the nursing field, the university said.
During the final semester clinical course, students will be matched with a Sibley instructor for a 96-hour internship that will include support, coaching and mentorship. After receiving their licenses and graduating, students will do one-year residencies at Sibley, working full-time as staff registered nurses.
“We’re so excited to expand on this reputation and partner with Sibley to fill this workplace need,” Marymount president Irma Becerra said in a statement. “We’re grateful to [Sibley] for how this agreement will expose our nursing students to the clinical practice environment and organizational culture they will experience once they complete their degree.”
Shooshan, who has served on Marymount’s board of trustees for three years, said that he and Marcia also wanted to give back to the nursing field to honor and support those who have worked throughout the Covid pandemic, at great risk and sacrifice.
“Our health isn’t free,” Shooshan said. “People make sacrifices, just like Mark Abbruzzese and nurses.”