The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing was among 32 nursing schools in the country to be selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars Program. Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, FAANP, and Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD, professor and PhD program director in the College of Nursing, submitted the proposal for a total $150,000 grant that will be be used to fund two students pursuing PhDs.
The students, Michelle Harrison, MSN, MBA, RNC, and Patricia Mosley, CRNA, will receive $75,000 each to obtain their PhDs.
“I am extremely honored to have been selected into this program. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is known for its support and growth of the nursing professional. To me, knowledge is power and it has been important for me in my career to constantly gain knowledge to improve my ability to provide care for my patients,” Harrison said.
The curriculum will follow a three-year program for which the students will be awarded $25,000 for each year, setting up the students for success with leadership training and partnerships with research mentors who align with their research interests.
“As an honored, grant award recipient from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, my ultimate educational goal of attaining my Doctor of Philosophy degree in nursing will be realized,” Mosley said. “This award will allow me to concentrate exclusively on my research of the effects of anesthesia on patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, who are undergoing surgical procedures which require general anesthesia.”
Dr. Graff will be Harrison’s adviser while Kristen Archbold, PhD, RN, associate professor in the College of Nursing, will be Mosley’s adviser. After obtaining their PhDs, the graduates will be eligible to apply for a one-year $50,000 competitive post-doctoral award faculty position.
“The PhD programs are almost like apprenticeship programs,” Dr. Graff said. “The faculty and student work side by side. It’s a growth process and experience. They will come out of it being different, because they have grown personally and professionally.”
According to a report by the Health and Medicine Division, enrollment in doctorate of nursing programs has increased 160 percent, but enrollment in nursing PhD programs has increased by only about 15 percent. This puts great pressure on the current 1 percent of the nursing workforce who have PhDs, most of whom are nearing retirement, to train future nurses.
“Nursing is a clinical field,” said Dr. Likes. “For nursing it’s a different mindset when you begin to do research. You have to think differently, and that’s what this program does— it helps you think differently, so that you are the one developing the knowledge and clinicians apply the knowledge.”
The role of the nurse is unique in that it combines the clinical, patient and community aspect of medical care, so increasing the number of nurse educators is critical to meeting the demand of nurses currently and in the future. The grant will allow the College of Nursing to develop the next generation of PhD nurse leaders and scientists, contributing toward increasing the number of nurse educators. Each PhD nurse leader has the opportunity to educate thousands of nurses during their careers.
“We want to prepare nurse leaders. We don’t have enough nurse scientists. The nursing shortage is approaching critical levels,” said Dr. Likes. “The number of nurses that we need is increasing, but our supply is not increasing. So it’s really important we are preparing future educators to supply the pipeline.”