Samford University's Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has received the second largest award nationally of the 103 Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) grants for 2013-14. This is the 11th year for Samford to receive the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Samford's grant of $1,015,832 is second only to Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and is one of only two grants nationally that exceed $1 million.
Samford received the largest of three grants in the state of Alabama. The University of Alabama at Birmingham ($316,569) and the University of South Alabama ($139,461) also received grants.
The grants are designed to help ease a national shortage of nursing educators, according to Jane Martin, associate nursing dean and the HRSA grant administrator at Samford. Students who receive loans for master's or doctoral degree programs can have up to 85 percent of the loan forgiven in exchange for service as full-time nursing faculty members at an accredited school of nursing. Students continue to receive funds for the duration of their degree program as long as they maintain good academic standing.
Stuart Pope, who received his doctor of nursing practice from Samford in 2009, is one of the grant's success stories, Martin said. After many years as a practicing nurse for a state agency, Pope is now assistant professor of nursing at Auburn (Ala.) University.
"Without this grant, it would have been impossible for me to become an educator," Pope said. "From the time I began work on my bachelor's degree, I knew that I wanted to teach eventually. The grant allowed me to take the years of experience as a nurse and share it with students."
Pope said his experience at Samford also taught him how to be a good faculty member. "I knew how to be a nurse and how to be an administrator, but there are additional elements to academia. The education I received at Samford was invaluable in helping me to get the position at Auburn and in how to be successful in that position," he said.
The NFLP was approved by Congress in 2002, and Samford was one of the first 55 nursing schools from across the U.S. to receive funds. Samford's NFLP grants now total more than $4.1 million.
The 2013-14 grant is expected to help up to 72 students at Samford.
Martin noted that in 2012-13, Samford was able to use HRSA grant funds to help students from 14 different states extending from Massachusetts to California. To date, 164 students have benefited from NFLP loan awards at Samford and are serving as nurse educators across the country.
Faculty shortages in nursing schools are limiting student capacity at a time when the need for professional registered nurses is growing rapidly, Martin added. The passage of the Affordable Care Act and its impending full implementation in 2015 will increase the demand for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses.
"We are thrilled to receive funding from the Nurse Faculty Loan Program to provide support for graduate students who will teach full-time in nursing education," Martin said. "Our online curriculum allows us to expand our efforts to address the nursing faculty shortage far beyond Birmingham and Alabama. The Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing has had a special niche in our graduate program in preparing nurses to become faculty members since the program began in 1995."
During 2012-13, Samford enrolled 382 students in graduate nursing programs, including 77 in the doctor of nursing practice degree program.