Nursing School Again Awarded Funding to Support Enrollment Growth

August 19, 2009

For the second year in a row, the University of Rochester School of Nursing has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Scholarship Program. Last year, the School was among the first institutions in the nation to receive money from this competitive program.

Grants provided will be used for scholarships to increase the number of students enrolled in the School’s accelerated baccalaureate and master’s programs for non-nurses, which build upon students’ existing degrees by providing generalist nursing studies that qualify students for their nursing licensing exams. The School of Nursing was awarded $130,000, which will provide $10,000 scholarships for 13 entry-level nursing students during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Launched in 2008 by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the initiative aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs, 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, particularly at the University of Rochester, 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 RWJF New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem.

“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 Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., RWJF senior adviser for nursing. “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 program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or disadvantaged backgrounds by giving award preference to those students. 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.

Last year, the School awarded 15 scholarships through the NCIN program. “These students had prior baccalaureate degrees in humanities, business and science disciplines, as well as other advanced degrees in business administration and liberal arts, including a doctoral degree in education administration and policy studies,” said Kathy Rideout, Ed.D., P.N.P.-B.C., F.N.A.P., associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing. “Forty percent of these scholars were male, 60 percent were from an underrepresented minority group in nursing, and 27 percent were from a disadvantaged background with several meeting more than one criteria.”

Grant funding also was used by the School of Nursing to help leverage new faculty resources and ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients. “All students that received awards last year are participating in additional leadership training and a tailored mentoring program developed to meet their unique needs,” said Rideout. “With this newest award, we hope to continue increasing enrollment, strengthen the student mentoring program, enhance recruitment and marketing initiatives, and expand academic support services.”

The University of Rochester School of Nursing accelerated programs for non-nurses started in May 2002 with a class of 22 full-time students. It has grown significantly with a current class size of 106 full-time students. Due to demand, the School has even added a second cohort of students who will begin classes January 2010.

Scholarship details and application procedures are available on the School of Nursing Web site. Prospective students can also call (585) 275-2375 for more information. The application deadline is Nov. 1, 2009, for the class entering May 2010.

AACN serves as the National Program Office for this RWJF initiative and oversees the grant application submission and review processes.

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Susan Fandel
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