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School of Nursing Receives $120,000 Grant For New Careers In Nursing Program

September 17, 2009
University Relations
School of Nursing Receives $120,000 Grant For New Careers In Nursing Program

The School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a $120,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program to boost enrollment of students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds. This is the second grant from the foundation awarded to UMass Amherst in the past two years. Last summer, the School of Nursing received an $80,000 grant for the same program.

The grant, part of a national initiative launched by the 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 new grant will offer scholarships to 12 applicants from underrepresented or financially disadvantaged groups to help them achieve the goal of becoming nurses without creating undue financial hardships on themselves or their families. The students will be recruited from the UMass campuses in Amherst, Lowell and Dartmouth, the Five Colleges, Baystate Medical Center programs and other local colleges.

Jean E. Swinney, interim dean of the School of Nursing, says this latest grant award is a welcome boost for a program that is working. “To meet the needs of an increasingly more diverse and older population, it is imperative the School of Nursing increase the number of highly educated new nurses entering our nation’s workforce,” she says, adding that she is very pleased the school has secured this highly competitive grant award to further those goals.

Genevieve E. Chandler, associate professor of nursing at UMass Amherst and project director, who wrote and received the grant, says this second grant is excellent news for the nursing school. Chandler says that in just 17 months, the second bachelor’s degree program gives students the preparation necessary to take the state nursing licensure exam and begin professional nursing practice.

Chandler also notes that for the past 15 years, the success of the second bachelor’s program at the UMass Amherst School of Nursing has revolved around the creation of a learning environment which encourages students to use their diverse ethnic, racial and life experiences to enrich the learning process. The mix of experience and perspectives that students bring to the program provides valuable insights into caring for diverse patient populations and working within increasingly varied nursing workforce environments. It also contributes to bringing the voices of underrepresented populations into nursing scholarship to assure improved patient care beyond the single student’s practice and provides evidence for the advancement of culturally competent care.

Juanita Swanston, a student who participated in the program, says, “As a single mother with two children, I worried about how I could afford to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. The Robert Wood Johnson Scholarship eased my worry and helped this dream become a reality in my life.”

The School of Nursing will recruit new faculty and provide mentoring and leadership development to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, 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.

According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, diversifying the nursing profession is essential to meeting the health care needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations. 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

School of Nursing Website