Fairfield University School of Nursing student Richard "Ched" Foster, of West Haven, named first recipient of Scott MacDonald Award


Image: Ched Foster receives awardRichard "Ched" Foster, a recent graduate of Fairfield University's School of Nursing, has been named the first recipient of the Scott MacDonald Award, an honor bestowed on the student who has shown a deep commitment for the care and well being of veterans.

Foster, of West Haven, was a student in the University's first Second Degree BSN class to rotate through the "VA Nursing Academy," a United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program partnering the School of Nursing with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VACHS).

Foster said he was humbled by the honor. "When you walk into the VA, there is a sign on one of the walls that reads: 'The Price of Freedom is Visible Here,'" he said. "On another wall, you see: 'All Gave Some, Some Gave All.' Just those two thoughts are enough to warm my emotions, but it is especially rewarding to know that my fellow students chose me as to be honored this way

Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said MacDonald's work as an advocate for veterans, coupled with the School of Nursing's longtime commitment to veterans' healthcare, inspired VA Nursing Academy faculty to establish the award. It was awarded in conjunction with VACHS. A Navy veteran, MacDonald, of Branford, works as Congressman Jim Himes's Veterans and Homeland Security Outreach Coordinator. Paralyzed from the waist down, he has made it part of his life's mission to educate healthcare professionals on caring for those with spinal cord injuries, especially veterans. Doris T. Lippman, Ed. D., professor of nursing at Fairfield and an Army veteran, said, "The award was voted on by the students, and they decided that Ched demonstrates a true appreciation for the veteran population. He exhibits compassion and a sense of gratitude for their patriotic service."

The experience of rotating through the West Haven VA Hospital proved so fulfilling that Foster has accepted a position to work there as an operating room nurse. "Working at the VA is a choice to care for those who have served our country," Foster said. "For me it is an honor and a privilege. Being thanked by a veteran for taking care of him or her is just a wonderful feeling. They guarantee our way of life, and I believe the best possible way to thank them is in our care as nurses." 

Like most adult learners, Foster, 53, worked in other professions before starting Fairfield's Second Degree program. He earned a bachelor's degree in social work, and he has been working for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services as a residential case manager. He even worked at VACHS as a surgical technologist for several years. "I have always been medically inclined with my father, grandfather, and brother all physicians and two of my sisters are nurses," Foster said. "(Medicine) runs in the family. I hope to become the perioperative nurse educator for the operation room." Foster and MacDonald met in the spring when MacDonald came to speak to a class taught by Dr. Lippman. He was moved by MacDonald's unwavering optimism and can do spirit, which is evident despite a car accident that happened while he was on active duty.

For more information about the School of Nursing, visit http://fairfield.edu/son/ or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 4150.

Image: (L-R)Veteran Scott MacDonald, Margaret Veazey, MSN RN, associate director of Nursing Services, West Haven V.A. Medical Center and Richard "Ched" Foster, recent School of Nursing graduate.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 24, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 40