RWJF & AACN Award $7 Million in Scholarships to Accelerated Nursing Students

  1. robert wood johnson foundation and aacn announce second round of awards through the new careers in nursing scholarship program
    52 schools of nursing in 29 states awarded $7 million for scholarships to support students in accelerated nursing programs

    washington, d.c., august 3, 2009 - the robert wood johnson foundation (rwjf) and the american association of colleges of nursing (aacn) today announced that 52 schools of nursing will receive funding through the rwjf new careers in nursing scholarship program (ncin), which was launched last year to address the national nursing shortage and increase the diversity of nursing professionals. in this second round of awards, scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be awarded to 700 nursing students entering accelerated programs during the 2009-2010 academic year.

    "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 health care that is effective, patient-centered, timely efficient and equitable," said rwjf senior adviser for nursing susan b. hassmiller, phd, rn, faan. "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."

    "aacn applauds the robert wood johnson foundation for making it possible for hundreds of new students to enter nursing school during these tough economic times," said aacn president fay raines, phd, rn. "with sources of financial aid dwindling in the wake of the recession, schools of nursing are extremely grateful to have access to funding that will enable individuals from diverse backgrounds to fulfill their dreams of becoming a nurse."

    ncin enables schools of nursing to expand student capacity in entry-level accelerated programs offered at the baccalaureate and master's levels. schools receiving grants through the ncin program then disburse these funds directly to students as individual scholarship awards. scholarship preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. in the next academic year, 569 students in accelerated baccalaureate programs and 131 students in accelerated master's programs will receive scholarship funding. a complete list of schools receiving funding is attached.

    ncin targets many of the issues currently confronting professional nursing education, including providing support for students in fast-track nursing programs and increasing the population of future faculty. accelerated programs provide the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse (rn) for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. students enrolled in these intense programs are prepared to pass the licensure examine required for all rns in as little as 12-18 months. although enrollment in these programs has steadily increased, many prospective students are unable to apply since having an existing college degree disqualifies them from most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students.

    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 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. this holds true for first-year ncin scholarship recipients with 95% of these students indicating a desire to advance their education to the master's and doctoral levels.

    ncin program having an impact
    ncin is clearly having an impact on diversifying the nursing student population and bringing more underrepresented groups into the profession. a recent survey of current scholarship recipients found that more than 60% of these students come from diverse racial/ethnic groups, including students from african american (27.7%), hispanic (15.4%), and asian (14.0%) backgrounds. unlike the nursing population which is currently 5.8% male, men account for 36.2% of scholarship recipients in the ncin program.

    the ncin program is also helping to diversify the skill mix within the overall nursing workforce. while most scholarship recipients are moving into nursing with degrees in the physical or behavioral sciences (51.4%), a sizable number are entering with degrees in business, the liberal arts, and the health sciences. these individuals come from a variety of professional backgrounds and position titles, including mortgage broker, data analyst, automotive repairman, pharmacy technician, accountant, homemaker, teacher, police officer, chemist, military personnel, engineer, social worker, dental assistant, graphic designer, project manager, and media buyer among many others.

    the survey data also show that the ncin program is succeeding in removing financial barriers to nursing careers. first-year scholarship recipients cite the ncin scholarship as a major funding source for their education, with most relying on educational loans (91.3%), personal savings (35.1%), and family support (22.0%) to finance the remainder of their expenses. since most students are not working while enrolled in a program (67.1%), many students indicate that this career transition would not be possible with the ncin funding.

    finally, ncin is clearly having a positive impact on our nation's nursing schools. many programs that received awards last year are using this funding to help leverage 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 into the future while further positioning these institutions for future growth.

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