Nursing minorities spurs new scholarship

Katie Armes

Review staff writer

The Linfield Good Samaritan School of Nursing’s accelerated baccalaureate program will offer 12 incoming students $10,000 scholarships in June 2009,  thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

RWJF awarded 58 nursing schools across America more than seven million dollars in scholarships to increase enrollment of underrepresented groups in nursing, such as men, minorities and disadvantaged students.

“I believe in the long run what they are attempting to do is provide more nurses because of the nursing shortage and also increase diversity in the nursing profession,” Dean of Nursing Bonnie Saucier said.

Enrollment in Linfield’s accelerated baccalaureate program, which allows students with previous bachelor’s degrees to earn a nursing degree in 18 months, will jump from 48 to 60 students because of the RWJF funding. The scholarship recipients have not been chosen yet but will be by the end of the semester.

“Getting recognized by the RWJF is a really amazing opportunity for a college of our size,” Kate Elias, pre-health professions advisor and director of academic advising, said.

The Good Samaritan School of Nursing is well-equipped to handle the expanded enrollment of 12 students required by the RWJF because of the recent expansion and renovation of Peterson Hall on the Portland campus.

Renovations included dividing classroom space to fit modern teaching practices and improving the nursing simulation lab. Additional faculty will be hired to cover the increase in number of classes and clinicals.

“It was another factor in the success of the grant that we could handle additional students,” Catherine Jarmin Miller, director of foundation and corporate relations, said.

Other funding helped Linfield lay a foundation for serving minority nursing students, proving that it was worthy of support from the RWJF. Miller said the Health Resources and Services Administration grant was a major reason why Linfield was awarded the RWJF scholarship.

Linfield first received the HRSA grant for the entire nursing school in 2004 to promote the enrollment of Hispanic students. It was renewed in 2007 to support other minorities in nursing.

“[The nursing program] had already created a really rich retention program and recruitment program for minority students,” Miller said.

Linfield has the option of reapplying for the RWJF funding for the next class of accelerated baccalaureate students, but receiving the money would require another increase in class size. Saucier said Linfield is not planning to reapply for the scholarship at this time because 60 students is near the limit the school can comfortably support.

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