School of Nursing Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Grant to Provide Scholarships for Accelerated Programs

University of Rochester Among First to Earn Funding to Support Enrollment Growth

September 15, 2008

The University of Rochester School of Nursing is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to provide scholarships for people with bachelor’s degrees in other fields who wish to pursue careers in nursing.

Grants provided through the competitive RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program will be used for scholarships to increase the number of students enrolled in The School of Nursing’s accelerated baccalaureate and master’s programs for non-nurses (APNN), which build upon students’ existing degrees by providing generalist nursing studies that qualify students for their nursing licensing exams.

This groundbreaking 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. The School of Nursing was awarded $150,000, which will provide $10,000 scholarships for 15 students.

Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, scholarships will be distributed to entry-level nursing students in accelerated programs during the 2008-2009 academic year. 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 Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. “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.

The University of Rochester School of Nursing accelerated programs for non-nurses opened in 2002 with a class of 22 full-time students and has grown significantly, with a current class size of 100 full-time students. Almost 40 percent of the current student class is from outside New York state, including students from 23 other states and several foreign countries.

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.
Further information about scholarship details and application procedures will be forthcoming. For details about the accelerated programs, visit www.son.rochester.edu and click on the lower right link, “Find out more about our accelerated programs for non-nurses,” or call (585) 275-2375 for more information. The application deadline is November 1 for the May 2009 entering class.

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, visit www.newcareersinnursing.org.

For Media Inquiries:
Lori Barrette
(585) 275-1310
Email Lori Barrette