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Penn Nursing Receives One of the First Future of Nursing Scholars Grants to Prepare PhD Nurses

New Multi-Funder Initiative Aims to Help Reach Institute of Medicine Goal to Double the Number of Nurses with Doctorates

​​University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of only 14 schools of nursing nationwide to be among the first to receive a grant from a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. As an inaugural grantee of the Future of Nursing Scholars program, Penn Nursing will select two nursing students to receive financial support, mentoring, and leadership development over the three years of their PhD programs.

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, United Health Foundation, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Rhode Island Foundation are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year. The Future of Nursing Scholars program plans to support up to 100 PhD nursing candidates over its first two years.

Penn Nursing is receiving its grant from Independence Blue Cross Foundation. It will select scholars later this summer and those students will begin their PhD studies this fall.

“We are honored that the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing was selected as a recipient of the first Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Future of Nursing Scholars grants. We are committed to developing PhD prepared nurse scientists who will address the unique challenges in our society and become the future intellectual leaders, innovators, and transformative change agents in nursing science,” said Connie Ulrich, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Nursing and Graduate Group Chair of PhD Studies.

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will support more nurse leaders, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses.

RWJF is working through all its programs to build a Culture of Health that enables all people to lead healthy lives, now and for generations to come.

“We cannot build a Culture of Health without many more highly educated nurse leaders,” said Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Future of Nursing Scholars program co-director. “PhD-prepared nurses are leaders in research, innovation, policy, and education. The alumni of the Future of Nursing Scholars program will be among the nurse leaders who pioneer the groundbreaking research that provides solutions to our most pressing health problems, and they will educate thousands of nurses over the course of their careers. We are creating the next generation of change-makers.” Fairman is also the Nightingale professor of nursing and director of the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Fewer than 30,000 (or 1%) of the nation’s more than 3 million nurses have doctoral degrees in nursing or a related field.  While enrollment in doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs has risen dramatically over the past few years, enrollment in PhD programs has been flat. In addition, the average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the U.S. is 46—13 years older than PhD earners in other fields. This program will provide an incentive for nurses to start PhD programs earlier, so that they can have long leadership careers after earning their PhDs.

“This is a crucial and ambitious endeavor,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing. “It’s one that everyone in our country should be engaged in and that’s why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is inviting other funders to participate in this effort. We believe that working together, we can ensure that we are able to educate the PhD-prepared nurse leaders we need to shape the future of health care education, research and policy.”

UPFront Magazine - Spring 2014

UPfront - Spring 2014