Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds 5 WVU School of Nursing scholarships

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University School of Nursing is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

Grants provided through this competitive program will be used for scholarships to increase the number of students enrolled in WVU’s accelerated baccalaureate nursing program. This groundbreaking national initiative, launched by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs.

The WVU School of Nursing share of the scholarship money is $50,000.

Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed to entry-level nursing students in accelerated programs during the 2008-2009 academic year. Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Grant funding also will be used by the School of Nursing to help leverage new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

“This program aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage,” said RWJF President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D.  “This new initiative also will advance our strategic goal of promoting leadership in the health professions.”

The New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program supports accelerated programs, which offer 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, many potential students are unable to enroll, because already having a college degree disqualifies them for receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem, and will also address the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education.

The WVU School of Nursing’s BS/BA to BSN program allows students who have previously earned a baccalaureate degree in another field to earn a BSN degree in 18 months. On the Morgantown campus, more than 50 students are enrolled in the accelerated BS/BA to BSN program. The program began in 2001 with eight students. Since then 83 students have graduated from the program.

By bringing more nurses into the profession, the new scholarship 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 at the baccalaureate level are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing, which is the required credential to teach.

Additionally, the program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, diversifying the nursing profession is essential to meeting the healthcare needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations.

At WVU, five students entering the BS/BA to BSN program who meet the definition of under-represented minority and disadvantaged students will be provided scholarships and placed into leadership development activities. Eligible students will be invited to complete a one-page essay detailing their impressions of nursing as a second career, why they should be eligible for the NCIN scholarship, what they can contribute to the leadership program to support the social justice and diversity mission of the School of Nursing and West Virginia University, and what skills they think they need to be a successful student. The admissions committee will review the essays, and students will be notified of the scholarship award and acceptance into the leadership program. 

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

For more information about this program, see http://www.newcareersinnursing.org.

For more information about the WVU School of Nursing see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/son/.



For more information:
Andrea Brunais, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ab: 09-08-08

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