Public Release: 

Penn nursing receives prestigious future of nursing scholars grant to prepare Ph.D. nurses

Multi-funder initiative aims to help reach institute of medicine goal to build the next generation of PhD prepared nursing leaders

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

PHILADELPHIA (March 3, 2016) - The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) is one of only 32 schools of nursing nationwide to receive a grant to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Future of Nursing Scholars program will provide financial support, mentoring, and leadership development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. Penn Nursing will select two nursing student to receive this prestigious scholarship.

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System), Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare, Rush University Medical Center, and a Michigan funders collaborative* are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year.

Penn Nursing is receiving its grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation for one scholar, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the other scholar. The selections will be made in late spring and those students will begin the Future of Nursing Scholars program this fall.

"We are proud and appreciative that Penn has been selected to participate in the Future of Nursing Scholars program," said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN. "As the impact of nursing on health and healthcare expands, the types of support available to Future of Nursing Scholars is critical to preparing the next generation of researchers and leaders."

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses. The Future of Nursing Scholars program is intended to help address that recommendation.

"Since the release of the IOM report, enrollment in doctorate of nursing practice programs has increased an incredible 160% from 2010 to 2014. However, the increase of PhD enrollment has only been 14.6%. At RWJF, we are striving to grow the number of nurses with PhDs who will be prepared to assume leadership positions across all levels," said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF's senior adviser for nursing.

The number of nurses enrolled in PhD programs is not the only issue addressed by this program. The average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the United States 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.

"The Future of Nursing Scholars represent a group of students who are already making considerable contributions to the field," said Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Future of Nursing Scholars program co-director. "These nurses are publishing their research and meeting with national leaders, while working at an advanced pace so that they can complete their PhD education in only three years." Fairman is also the Nightingale professor of nursing and the chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at Penn Nursing.

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* Michigan funders collaborative includes: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Metro Health Foundation, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, DMC Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at http://www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at http://www.rwjf.org/facebook.

About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world's leading schools of nursing and is ranked the #1 graduate nursing school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Penn Nursing is consistently among the nation's top recipients of nursing research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through research, education, and practice.

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