The Indiana University Northwest School of Nursing is pleased to announce that it has received funding to award five scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program. Grants provided through this competitive program will be used for scholarships to maximize diversity and increase the quantity of students enrolled in IU Northwest’s accelerated baccalaureate program. This significant national initiative, launched 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.
These five scholarships will be offered to qualifying students who pursue IU Northwest’s nursing-as-second-degree program beginning in Summer 2010. The IU Northwest School of Nursing was the only program in Indiana to receive grant funding through this RWJF program this year.
Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed to entry-level nursing students in accelerated programs. Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant funding also 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 healthcare 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 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. Consequently, bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels will help to address the nation’s nurse faculty shortage.
“We are facing a nursing shortage, and we are trying to attract members of underrepresented populations to the profession,” said IU Northwest School of Nursing Dean Linda Rooda. “Men are very much underrepresented in nursing, and so this scholarship will be available to male students, as well as to African-American students and Latino students.”
The five $10,000 scholarships will be applicable only to IU Northwest’s B.A./B.S. to B.S.N. program, in which students who already possess a bachelor’s degree in another field are able to earn their nursing degree in 18 months. So far, the School of Nursing has graduated two classes of nursing-as-second-degree students, and all students in both groups passed their national licensure exams on their first attempt. The next class will be admitted in Summer 2010, and the RWJF-supported scholarships will be available to qualifying students in that class.
“These non-traditional (nursing-as-second-degree) students struggle to juggle this intense course of study with family and work responsibilities,” explained IU Northwest College of Health and Human Services Associate Dean Linda Delunas, who is also a nursing faculty member. “As part of our evaluation process, we learned through focus groups that the greatest obstacles for our students are not only the pace and rigor of the program, but also the inability to work enough to provide for family.”
Delunas said the RWJF grant would allow IU Northwest to provide stipends to qualifying students that should ease the financial burden and allow them to make this important shift in their careers. Scholarship recipients will be assigned faculty mentors who will monitor their progress and help assure that each student maximizes his or her learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. There will also be peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities for students in the program.
For more information on the IU Northwest B.A./B.S. to B.S.N. program or about the RWJF scholarships, contact the IU Northwest School of Nursing at (219) 980-6600, or visit the Web at http://www.iun.edu/nursing/
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