Grant supports scholarships for accelerated nursing program

University Park, Pa. -- The Penn State School of Nursing has been selected as one of 52 schools to receive grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). During the 2011-12 academic year, the school will receive $100,000 to support students in the baccalaureate program who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing. The NCIN Scholarship Program was launched in 2008 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to address the national nursing shortage, to develop a diverse professional nursing workforce and to fuel the pipeline of nurse faculty members and leaders.

"There is a shortage of nurses in this country and this grant will allow us to help college graduates, who may be in careers where they are underutilized, to transition into a robust profession with great salaries and flexibility," said Paula Milone-Nuzzo, dean of the School of Nursing and the grant’s principal investigator. “The grant also will help us to address a major challenge in the field of nursing: the recruitment of minorities, including men."

The NCIN program will enable the school to award ten scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each to students entering Penn State's accelerated nursing program during the 2011-12 academic year. The money, said Milone-Nuzzo, will be helpful to students because the school's accelerated second-degree program, which takes 16 months to complete, is so rigorous that it provides little opportunity for outside employment.

Scholarships will be awarded to individuals who are underrepresented in nursing based on financial need. Many of the students who are served by the school's accelerated program meet this requirement. In 2009, the school opened its first accelerated program at the Penn State Altoona campus in order to meet the high level of interest in such a program that was exhibited by people in the area. In December of 2010, the program graduated its first cohort of 18 students, all of whom were employed in nursing immediately following graduation.

Now, because of the significant demand for the program, the School of Nursing is opening a second accelerated program at Penn State Harrisburg in September. "We anticipate that the majority of the students who will attend the Harrisburg program will come from the surrounding urban community," said Milone-Nuzzo. "We have also created a bridge to Lincoln University to encourage those graduates who are interested in nursing to attend the program."

Milone-Nuzzo noted that students who already have been in the workforce often make excellent students. "Through these accelerated programs, we have an opportunity to change the face of nursing by bringing in people with unique perspectives. And through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, we also have an opportunity to engage minorities in a rewarding career."

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For more than 35 years the foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 670 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research and practice.

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Last Updated June 28, 2011