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9/23/2008 Linfield College selected for RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program

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PORTLAND — The Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

Grants provided through this competitive program will be used for scholarships to increase the number of students enrolled in Linfield's accelerated baccalaureate nursing program. This groundbreaking national initiative, launched by 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 Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing received $120,000 from the RWJF to provide $10,000 scholarships to 12 students from groups who are underrepresented in the field, including men and minority students. The scholarships will be awarded to students who enroll in Linfield's 18-month accelerated program, increasing that enrollment from the current 48 students to 60.

Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed to entry-level nursing students in accelerated programs during the 2008-2009 academic year. Grant funding also will be used by the school of nursing to help leverage new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

“This program aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage,” said RWJF President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. “This new initiative also will advance our strategic goal of promoting leadership in the health professions.”

The RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program supports accelerated programs, which offer the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Although enrollment in these programs has steadily increased over the past few years, many potential students are unable to enroll since already having a college degree disqualifies them for receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships will address this problem, and will also address the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education.

Linfield's accelerated nursing program began in 2005 and has produced 75 graduates who have a 100 percent NCLEX-RN pass rate. Enrollment for the 2008-09 academic year increased from 40 to 48 students with 16 percent coming from populations underrepresented in nursing including Caucasian males.

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.

Additionally, the program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or disadvantaged backgrounds. 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.

At Linfield College, eligible students must be from a group underrepresented in nursing, have a BA/BS by Jan. 30, 2009, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be accepted to the nursing program. Applications will be available in the spring 2009.

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 http://www.newcareersinnursing.org.