By MARGOT SCHRIRE, HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I –UH Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) announced today that it is one of 63 schools that will receive funding to award five scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). Grants provided through this competitive program will be given to students traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing. This program strives to prepare culturally competent leaders in the accelerated Masters Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) program. NCIN was launched in 2008 to address the national nursing shortage and fuel the pipeline of diverse nurse faculty.
“Through the NCIN program, we are challenging the nation’s nursing schools to be innovative and resourceful in how they grow their nursing programs, diversify student populations and contribute to the nursing leadership of tomorrow,” said RWJF program officer for NCIN Denise A. Davis, Dr. Public Health. “We are very pleased to support this unique approach, particularly at a time when growing numbers of Americans are gaining insurance and entering our health care system.”
At UH Mānoa , five scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be awarded to five students entering accelerated nursing programs during the 2010-2011 academic year.
To date, the NCIN program has supported 1,917 students at 101 schools of nursing, and continues to develop culturally competent health professionals and future leaders of the profession. “The UH Mānoa master’s entry into nursing program is highly competitive with the number of applicants much greater than the spaces available in each class,” said Mary Boland, Dean of the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. She continued. “Thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation support, we are increasing the number of highly qualified students from underrepresented backgrounds that enroll and graduate from UH Mānoa.”
The NCIN program was created through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Association of Colleges of Nursing to enable schools of nursing to expand student capacity in accelerated baccalaureate and master’s programs, and build a more diverse workforce ready to serve the needs of a changing patient population. Schools receiving grants through NCIN provide scholarships directly to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or 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, 397 students in accelerated baccalaureate programs and 114 students in accelerated master’s programs will receive scholarship funding.
The NCIN program addresses a number of the challenges confronting nursing education, professional development, and the national workforce shortage. Accelerated programs like the ones supported by NCIN provide scholars with the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and create opportunities for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a field other than nursing. These programs prepare students to pass the licensure examine required for all RNs in as little as 12-18 months and provide quicker routes to workforce eligibility than traditional programs.
By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, the NCIN program also helps to address the nation’s 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% of the students receiving funding in the first two years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the master’s and doctoral levels.
Finally, the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program is clearly having a positive effect on the nation’s nursing schools. Many programs that received awards have used the NCIN funding to help leverage additional resources to add new faculty, secure matching funding from state programs, develop mentoring and leadership development programs, strengthen outreach efforts, and establish new partnerships with community and practice leaders. These efforts will enable schools to sustain their program expansion while positioning them for growth.
Margot Schrire is with the UH Foundation. Reach her at Margot.Schrire@uhfoundation.org