Fairfield University's School of Nursing awarded scholarships for accelerated nursing students


 

Scholarships funded through Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing Program

Fairfield University's School of Nursing is pleased to announce that it has received funding to award ten scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

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

Fairfield's School of Nursing will award ten scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each to students from groups underrepresented in nursing, including men and minorities. Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said the grant will assist adult learners in the School of Nursing's B.S. in Nursing - Second Degree Program, an approximate 15-month program for individuals who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline but who desire a career change into nursing. It will also help build upon efforts by Fairfield to diversify its student body. "This grant will allow an increase in the percent of students from groups underrepresented in nursing, thereby increasing the diversity in the program, the School, and the University."

The School of Nursing's Adult Program Director Carole A. Pomarico, MSN, MA, RN, assistant professor of nursing and project director, said the funding will ultimately help increase the number of new nurses, a crucial goal considering both the state and nationwide nursing shortage. "The grant will further enable Fairfield to continue to grow the Second Degree program."

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 also 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 health care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable," said RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. "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 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. Consequently, bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master's degree levels will help to address the nation's nurse faculty shortage.

Scholarship recipients will include men, students from ethnically diverse populations, and those who are economically disadvantaged based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration (HRSA) guidelines. Students must meet course prerequisites and grade point average admission standards. According to Noël Appel, director of Foundation Relations at Fairfield, the funds will cover costs associated with tuition, academic fees, and living expenses. The grant period runs from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2010. For more information about the School of Nursing, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/son/ or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 4150.

An added benefit of the Second Degree BSN program is that the students do all their clinical learning experiences at the West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital. There, they take part in the 'VA Nursing Academy,' a special pilot program addressing the nursing shortage and best practices. The School of Nursing and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System are among a select group of institutions taking part in this program overseen by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Pomarico said, "The unique aspect of this scholarship program is the leveraging of existing resources through the VA project with the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program to maximize the return on investment for the target population. It is expected that students completing this program will excel clinically and continue on into graduate education in nursing."

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.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 20, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 37