Mary Lee Roberts, PhD student in lab
Multi-funder initiative aims to help reach Institute of Medicine goal to build the next generation of PhD prepared nursing leaders.

Spokane, WA – WSU College of Nursing is one of only 32 schools of nursing nationwide to receive a grant to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program will provide financial support, mentoring, and leadership development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. The College of Nursing will select two nursing students to receive this prestigious scholarship.

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare, Rush University Medical Center, and a Michigan funders collaborative* are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year.

WSU College of Nursing is receiving its grant from RWJF. It will select two scholars in May and those students will begin the Future of Nursing Scholars program this summer.

“Our scholars will focus their research on behavioral health, and they will be mentored by Dr. Janet Katz, Dr. John Roll, and myself. This is an exciting opportunity for our College and for our scholars,” notes Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, WSU College of Nursing PhD Program Director.

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses. The Future of Nursing Scholars program is intended to help address that recommendation.

“Since the release of the IOM report, enrollment in doctorate of nursing practice programs has increased in an incredible 160% from 2010 to 2014. However, the increase of PhD enrollment has only been 14.6%. At RWJF, we are striving to grow the number of nurses with PhDs who will be prepared to assume leadership positions across all levels,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing.

The number of nurses enrolled in PhD programs is not the only issue addressed by this program. The average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the United States is 46—13 years older than PhD earners in other fields. This program will provide an incentive for nurses to start PhD programs earlier, so that they can have long leadership careers after earning their PhDs.

“The Future of Nursing Scholars represent a group of students who are already making considerable contributions to the field,” said Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Future of Nursing Scholars program co-director. “These nurses are publishing their research and meeting with national leaders, while working at an advanced pace so that they can complete their PhD education in only three years.” Fairman is also the Nightingale professor of nursing and the chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

* Michigan funders collaborative includes: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Metro Health Foundation, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, DMC Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.