The University of South Alabama is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.
Dr. Debra Davis, Dean of College of Nursing
Grants provided through this competitive program will be used for scholarships to increase the number of students enrolled in USA’s accelerated nursing program. This groundbreaking national initiative, launched by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs.
USA’s College of Nursing received $200,000 in funding from RWJF, providing scholarships for 20 new accelerated nursing students. The first 15 scholarships were awarded this fall, and five more will be given when the next class of accelerated nursing students is admitted in January 2009.
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 during the 2008-2009 academic year.
As a recipient of the RWJF grant, USA has agreed to admit an additional 20 students into its accelerated nursing program, bringing the program’s total enrollment for the 2008-2009 academic year to 68 students.
The $10,000 scholarships will be particularly helpful to these students, who can rarely work while in school because of the rigorous schedule that allows them to finish degree requirements in only 12 months.
“One of the benefits of the new funding is that it has allowed us to increase enrollment in our accelerated program,” said Dr. Debra Davis, dean of USA’s College of Nursing. “It has also given those students an opportunity to have some financial assistance outside of loans.”
Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant funding also will be used by the school of nursing to help leverage new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.
“This program aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage,” said RWJF President Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. “This new initiative also will advance our strategic goal of promoting leadership in the health professions.”
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 for receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem, and will also address the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education.
By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, the new scholarship 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 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.
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 health care needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations.
For more information on the New Careers in Nursing scholarships or USA’s accelerated nursing program, contact the College of Nursing at (251) 434-3410, or visit online at www.southalabama.edu/nursing.