Present and Future

Nursing Awarded Scholarships from RWJF for Third Consecutive Year

Memphis, Tenn. (December 3, 2010) Ė The College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is pleased to announce that, for the third consecutive year, the college has received funds to award academic scholarships. The funds originate from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). This year, grants that total $100,000 are being given to underrepresented minority and male students seeking careers in nursing. The program was launched in 2008 to address the nationís nursing shortage and create a diverse pool of nursing professionals. NCIN allows students to enter an accelerated bachelorís degree in nursing program or an accelerated masterís-level nursing program for students holding bachelorís degrees in other fields.

The UT College of Nursing is awarding $10,000 each to 10 students entering the accelerated masterís in nursing program for the 2010-2011 academic year. The students are: James Beasley, Jason Casey, DeAnza Chaffin, Derrick Meadow, Justus Mogaka, John Ogles, Aaron Oswaks, Brittney Smith, Yesha Weeks and Andrea Williams. During the past three years, NCIN has supported 40 students at UTHSC.

"Our career-changing students eagerly enter our Clinical Nurse Leader Program to make the dream of becoming a nurse a reality in about two years," said Donna Hathaway, PhD, FAAN, professor and dean of the UT College of Nursing. "They begin their nursing careers at the masterís level instead of having to start by earning another bachelorís degree in the nursing field."

The retention rate for students in the accelerated program at the UT College of Nursing is 100 percent. The students participate in weekly mentoring, leadership and academic support activities to ensure the success of the program.

"We are challenging the nationís nursing schools to be innovative and resourceful in how they grow their programs, diversify student populations, and contribute to the nursing leadership of tomorrow," said Denise A. Davis, DPH, RWJF program officer for NCIN. "We are pleased to support this unique approach, particularly when growing numbers of Americans are gaining insurance and entering our health care system."

NCIN enables colleges and universities to build a more diverse nursing workforce ready to serve a changing patient population. Schools receiving the grants provide scholarships to students from underrepresented groups or to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. In its second year, 58 percent of scholarships went to students from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and 37 percent went to male nursing students. Men currently account for only 6.6 percent of the national nursing population.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, there are 397 students in accelerated baccalaureate nursing programs nationwide, and 114 students in accelerated masterís nursing programs are receiving scholarship funding. A list of U.S. schools receiving NCIN scholarships can be found at http://www.newcareersinnursing.org/current-programs.

Accelerated programs like the ones supported by NCIN provide the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and create nursing opportunities for adults who already hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a field other than nursing. The programs prepare students to pass the licensure examination required for all RNs in as little as 12 to 18 months and provide quicker routes to workforce eligibility than traditional programs. By bringing more nurses into the profession, the NCIN program also addresses the nationís nurse faculty shortage.

Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration show that nurses entering the profession via baccalaureate programs are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing. This trend is reflected in the NCIN scholars, as 95 percent of the students receiving funding in the first two years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the masterís and doctoral levels.

The RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program has a positive impact on the nationís nursing schools. Many programs that received awards use NCIN funding to leverage additional resources to add new faculty, secure matching funding from state programs, develop mentoring and leadership programs, strengthen outreach efforts, and establish new partnerships with community and practice leaders. These efforts allow schools to sustain their programs and position them for growth.