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9/3/2009 Linfield School of Nursing earns grant for scholarships

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PORTLAND For a second year, the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing has received $120,000 for scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.

Grants provided through this competitive program will build upon Linfield's previous efforts to increase the number of students enrolled in its accelerated nursing program and to diversify its student body. This national initiative, launched in 2008 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.

Last year, 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 were awarded to students who enrolled this summer in Linfield's 18-month accelerated program, increasing that enrollment from the current 48 students to 60. Forty percent of students in the summer 2009 cohort come from populations underrepresented in nursing.

            Linfield's accelerated nursing program began in 2005 and has educated 110 graduates who have a 100 percent NCLEX-RN pass rate. The additional $120,000 Linfield received in the new grant will provide 12 additional $10,000 scholarships for students who enroll next summer in the 18-month accelerated program.

By 2010, Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing will have received a total of $1.4 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the Nursing Workforce Diversity initiative. The program has been instrumental in increasing the number of scholarships available to underrepresented students. During the 2008-09 academic year, 30 percent of the students enrolled in the Linfield-Good

Samaritan School of Nursing were from groups who are underrepresented in the nursing profession.

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 2009-10 academic year. Award preference is given to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. Grant funding will be used by schools to help leverage support for new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

“New Careers in Nursing aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage. Nurses are critical to delivering health care that is effective, patient-centered, timely,  efficient and equitable,” said RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. “This important initiative will also advance the Foundation’s strategic goal of promoting a health professional workforce that reflects the diversity of the American public.”

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 from receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students. The New Careers in Nursing scholarships address this problem, and will also alleviate the overall nursing shortage, by enabling hundreds of students to launch their nursing careers through accelerated education not otherwise possible without scholarships.

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. Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration also 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.

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 2010.

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.