Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-06-09

Samford University’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing is one of 63 schools nationally that will receive funding to award eight scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). Samford is one of three Alabama institutions to receive the grants and the only private university in the state.

Grants provided through this competitive program are given to students traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing and strives to prepare culturally competent leaders in the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing’s accelerated baccalaureate nursing program, according to Janet Alexander, director of Samford’s accelerated nursing program. NCIN was launched in 2008 to address the national nursing shortage and fuel the pipeline of diverse nurse faculty.

Eight NCIN scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be awarded to Samford students entering accelerated nursing programs during the 2010-2011 academic year. To date, the NCIN program has supported 1,917 students at 101 schools of nursing, and continues to develop culturally competent health professionals and future leaders of the profession.  The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing’s15-month accelerated program was started in the fall of 2009, and $80,000 in scholarships was received for students in the 2010 class.

Alexander said that the scholarships are designated for students underrepresented in nursing, including men and minorities. Students can use the money for tuition or living expenses while enrolled in the program.

According to news releases provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the NCIN program was created through RWJF and AACN to enable schools of nursing to expand student capacity in accelerated baccalaureate and master’s programs, and build a more diverse workforce ready to serve the needs of a changing patient population. Schools receiving grants through NCIN provide scholarships directly to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. In its second year, 58 percent of scholarships went to students from diverse racial and ethnic groups and 37 percent went to male nursing students.  Men currently account for only 6.6 percent of the national nursing population.

In the 2010 - 2011 academic year, 397 students in accelerated baccalaureate programs and 114 students in accelerated master’s programs will receive scholarship funding.

The NCIN program addresses a number of the challenges confronting nursing education, professional development, and the national workforce shortage. NCIN provide scholars with the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and create opportunities for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a field other than nursing. These programs prepare students to pass the licensure examine required for all RNs in as little as 12-18 months and provide quicker routes to workforce eligibility than traditional programs.

By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, the NCIN 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 via baccalaureate programs are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing. This trend is reflected in the NCIN scholars, as 95% of the students receiving funding in the first two years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the master’s and doctoral levels.

Finally, the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program is clearly having a positive effect on the nation’s nursing schools, according to Denise A. Davis, RWJF program officer for NCIN.  . Many programs that received awards have used the NCIN funding to help leverage additional resources to add new faculty, secure matching funding from state programs, develop mentoring and leadership development programs, strengthen outreach efforts, and establish new partnerships with community and practice leaders. These efforts will enable schools to sustain their program expansion while positioning them for growth.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.