WVU awarded scholarships for accelerated nursing students for second year

Five $10,000 scholarships funded through Robert Wood Johnson Foundation                                               

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – College graduates who want to pursue an additional degree in nursing often face financial challenges. A grant program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is helping students in the West Virginia University School of Nursing move into the profession.

Grants provided through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program will build upon the WVU School of Nursing’s previous efforts to increase the number of students enrolled in its accelerated nursing program and to diversify its student base. This significant national initiative, launched in 2008 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.

This is the second year that WVU students have been eligible for the program. The five $10,000 scholarships that were awarded for the 2008-2009 school year allowed students from diverse backgrounds to pursue their nursing education at WVU.  The scholarships allowed for an increase in the number of admitted students to the BS/BA to BSN program so that 30 new students began the program in May 2009.

Five additional $10,000 scholarships are available this year.

The total enrollment in WVU’s program has increased from eight students when the program started in 2001 to a current enrollment of more than 50 students.  More than 100 students have graduated from the program and gone on to become registered nurses. 

"Our second degree students bring a wealth of life experiences, maturity and motivation to their study of nursing,” said Elisabeth N. Shelton, Ph.D., associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs for the WVU School of Nursing. “These scholarships will help to further increase the diversity of the students in this program so that all of our students will ultimately benefit."
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 2009-2010 academic year. Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant funding will be used by schools to help leverage support for new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

“New Careers in Nursing aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage. Nurses are critical to delivering healthcare that is effective, patient-centered, timely efficient and equitable,” said RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D.  “This important initiative will also advance the Foundation’s strategic goal of promoting a health professional workforce that reflects the diversity of the American public.”

The RWJF 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 since already having a college degree disqualifies them from receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem, and will also alleviate the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education not otherwise possible without scholarships.

Additionally, the program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or 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.  Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration also 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.

For the 2009-2010 WVU school year, the five $10,000 scholarships will be awarded to students who are admitted to the BS/BA to BSN program for May 2010.  Interested applicants can apply to the School of Nursing between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.  Those who meet admissions requirements will be invited for an interview and asked to complete an application for the scholarship.  Final admissions and scholarship decisions will be announced in February 2010.

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

For information about the scholarship 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: 07-30-09

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