MMU and Avera Health Announce Avera Scholars Program

November 4, 2021

Avera and Mount Marty University are pleased to announce a new education funding program to support nursing workforce needs in the region.

Through the Avera Scholars Program, Avera will support selected Mount Marty nursing students with school loans that will be forgiven once they work as nurses at Avera for three years following graduation. These nursing students will also get first-hand experience in health care by working at least eight hours a week in a paid employment role at Avera during their time at the university.

Nursing students during a class at the Avera Science & Nursing Complex at Mount Marty University.

Avera has committed to investing in four cohorts of 10 nurses – as many as 40 in total – providing each with $10,000 of funding per year for four years. This is a potential investment of $1.6 million over seven years.

“Mount Marty University and Avera have a similar heritage. Both were founded by courageous Sisters who came to Dakota Territory in the 1880s,” said Doug Ekeren, Regional President and CEO of Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell. “Their primary mission was education; a mission that evolved to include health care when they were presented with the need, particularly diphtheria and influenza epidemics of that time." Mount Marty and Avera have been natural partners and collaborators in many efforts, especially in development of future workforce.

"We are excited to continue our partnerships with Avera,” said Marcus Long, President, Mount Marty University. “The Avera Scholars Program is one-of-a-kind and modeled to strengthen the health care workforce in our region in a very intentional way. It also comes with a unique opportunity of job assurance at our leading health care system for these future nurses once they graduate."

These scholars will receive education and training at a significant project developed by the two institutions—the Avera Science & Nursing Complex on the Mount Marty University campus. This facility provides the technology and setting for students, regional health care providers and first responders to take part in skills training, competencies and interdisciplinary exercises.

“Avera is proud to employ many Mount Marty graduates. We clearly recognize that students who are educated and formed in mission at Mount Marty provide Christ-centered care that advances the mission of Avera,” Ekeren said. “We at Avera look forward to the ways in which this new partnership will help recruit great nursing students, contributing to Avera’s critical needs in workforce. We also look forward to building relationships with these talented students as they begin their academic journey and progress into their career.”

To learn more and to apply to be an Avera Scholar at Mount Marty University, call the Office of Admissions at (605) 668-1545 or visit this link.


About Avera Health
The Avera Health system has 20,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region. Our ministry, our people and our superior value distinguish Avera. We carry on the health care legacy of the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, delivering care in an environment guided by our values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship. For more information about Avera, visit our website at