AMHERST, Mass. – The College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Careers in Nursing scholarship program to support students in the baccalaureate program who are traditionally underrepresented in nursing and are pursuing second careers in the field.
New Careers in Nursing (NICN) is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The award is the fifth to the UMass Amherst College of Nursing.
“At this time when the nation’s need for highly educated nurses is growing, we are delighted to be able to support nursing students who will bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the field, and become capable, culturally-competent nurses,” said David Krol, senior program officer with the foundation. “NCIN is not only helping these students succeed in school, it is helping prepare the nursing workforce to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”
Each NCIN scholar has already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, and is making a career switch to nursing through an accelerated nursing degree program, which prepares students to pass the licensure exam required for all registered nurses in as little as 12-18 months.
At the UMass Amherst College of Nursing, five students will be awarded NCIN scholarships this year, bringing the total number of scholarships awarded through the program to 25. Since 2008, the NCIN program nationally has distributed 3,117 scholarships to students at 125 schools of nursing. This year, funding for 400 scholarships was granted to 52 schools.
“We are delighted to once again be a recipient of NCIN scholarship funding,” says Stephen Cavanagh, dean of the UMass Amherst College of Nursing. “This program has helped us increase the diversity of our students, increase retention, and provides us with evidence-based teaching materials for leadership and student success that will benefit all of our undergraduate students.”
In addition to a $10,000 scholarship, NCIN scholars receive other support to help them meet the demands of an accelerated degree program. All NCIN grantee schools maintain leadership and mentoring programs for their scholars, as well as a pre-entry immersion program to help scholars learn study, test-taking and other skills that will help them manage the challenges of an accelerated program.
“NCIN is strengthening nursing education and creating a culture of change at schools of nursing across the country,” said AACN president Jane Kirschling. “Our grantee schools are committed to enrolling students traditionally underrepresented in nursing, and students are benefiting from the emphasis on mentoring and leadership development that are hallmarks of the NCIN program.”
The 2010 Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommends increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree or higher, and increasing the diversity of students to create a nursing workforce prepared to meet the health care demands of diverse populations across the lifespan. NCIN is helping to advance those recommendations, enabling schools to expand student capacity in higher education, and encouraging more diversity.
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. This trend is reflected in the NCIN scholars, as 91 percent of the students receiving funding in the first three years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the master’s and doctoral levels.