Nursing Awarded Scholarships for Accelerated Students for Second Year

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The UTHSC College of Nursing announced that for the second year in a row, it has received funding to award 20 scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing announced today that for the second year in a row, it has received funding to award 20 scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program. Grants provided through this competitive program will build upon the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s previous efforts to increase the number of students enrolled in its accelerated, entry-level master’s degree Clinical Nurse Leader nursing program and to diversify its student base. This significant national initiative, launched in 2008 by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs.

In addition to financial support provided by the RWJF scholarships, students participate in weekly mentoring, leadership and academic support activities to facilitate success in the program. Retention rates are 100 percent. Fifty percent of RWJF scholarship recipients serve in leadership roles within the college and university and 90 percent of these students indicated a desire to go to graduate school within five years of completing the entry-level nursing program. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Systems has provided clinical faculty and collaborated on the development of a Dedicated Education Unit to provide quality clinical experiences and facilitate increased enrollment in the accelerated, entry-level nursing program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing.

Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed to entry-level, second-degree nursing students in accelerated programs during the 2009-2010 academic year. Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant funding will be used by schools to help leverage support for new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

“New Careers in Nursing aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage. Nurses are critical to delivering health care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable,” said RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. “This important initiative will also advance the foundation’s strategic goal of promoting a health professional workforce that reflects the diversity of the American public.”

The RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program supports accelerated programs, which offer the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Although enrollment in these programs has steadily increased over the past few years, many potential students are unable to enroll since already having a college degree disqualifies them from receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem, and will also alleviate the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education not otherwise possible without scholarships.

Additionally, the program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or disadvantaged backgrounds. According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, diversifying the nursing profession is essential to meeting the healthcare needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations. Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration also show that nurses entering the profession at the baccalaureate level are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing, which is the required credential to teach.

Newly admitted students in the entry-level MSN-CNL program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) are eligible to apply for the scholarships if they are from an underrepresented group (minority or males) or are economically disadvantaged. Students will participate in weekly leadership and retention sessions with faculty and doctoral students. Our goal is to achieve 100 percent retention and 100 percent passage on the NCLEX licensing examination for the RWJF scholars, with at least 50 percent of the scholarship recipients involved in leadership activities within the college, university or community. As part of this initiative, the UTHSC College of Nursing has increased minority enrollment to 50 percent in the entry-level nursing program.

AACN serves as the National Program Office for this RWJF initiative and oversees the grant application submission and review processes. For more information about this program, see http://www.newcareersinnursing.org.