Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has been selected as a grant recipient of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). During the 2013-2014 academic year, IVMSON will receive $50,000 to support students in the school's accelerated second baccalaureate nursing program who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing and are pursuing second careers in the field. NCIN is a program of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
"At this time when the nation's need for highly educated nurses is growing, we are delighted to be able to support nursing students who will bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the field, and become capable, culturally-competent nurses," said David Krol, MD, MPH, FAAP, RWJF senior program officer. "NCIN is not only helping these students succeed in school, it is helping prepare the nursing workforce to meet the challenges that lie ahead."
Each NCIN Scholar has already earned a bachelor's degree in another field, and is making a career switch to nursing through an accelerated nursing degree program, which prepares students to pass the licensure exam required for all registered nurses in as little as 12-18 months.
Five Samford students will be awarded NCIN scholarships. Since 2008, the NCIN program has distributed 3,117 scholarships to students at 125 unique schools of nursing. This year, funding for 400 scholarships was granted to 52 schools of nursing.
"This is a win-win for IVMSON, the students, and the nursing profession," said Joy Whatley, associate dean and director of undergraduate programs. "As a 2013-14 grantee, we are able to provide financial assistance to selected accelerated second baccalaureate degree nursing students who meet the criteria of underrepresented in nursing or who are from disadvantaged backgrounds."
Also, according to Whatley, it is a tremendous financial hardship for second career students to return to school. Most often they have no financial aid remaining from their previous degree. Without the help of the RWJF, many of these students would not be able to pursue their goals for careers in nursing.
In addition to a $10,000 scholarship, NCIN scholars receive other support to help them meet the demands of an accelerated degree program. All NCIN grantee schools maintain a leadership program and a mentoring program for their scholars, as well as a pre-entry immersion program to help scholars learn study, test-taking, and other skills that will help them manage the challenges of an accelerated program.
"NCIN is strengthening nursing education and creating a culture of change at schools of nursing across the country," said AACN President Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. "Our grantee schools are committed to enrolling students traditionally underrepresented in nursing, and students are benefiting from the emphasis on mentoring and leadership development that are hallmarks of the NCIN program. AACN is proud to collaborate with RWJF on this ground-breaking effort."
The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommends increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree or higher, and increasing the diversity of students to create a nursing workforce prepared to meet the health care demands of diverse populations across the lifespan. NCIN is helping to advance those recommendations, enabling schools to expand student capacity in higher education, and encouraging more diversity.
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. This trend is reflected in the NCIN scholars, as 91 percent of the students receiving funding in the first three years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the master's and doctoral levels.
Editor's Note: The format and most of the reporting for this story were provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.