New York nurses who aspire to earn doctoral degrees in nursing and are willing to commit to careers in nursing education could find that a local philanthropic organization is willing to fund their education and more.
The New York City-based Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, supported by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund, has made it its mission to advance professional nursing through grant-making and programs that improve the citys nurse recruitment and retention, increase nurse workforce ethnic and racial diversity, and advance innovative practice models and improve practice environments. The organization announced in November that it would earmark $2 million to $2.5 million for a program designed to fuel the citys dire need for more nurse faculty.
Over each of the last three years, on average, well over 100,000 qualified applicants have been turned away nationally by schools of nursing. The reason that they were denied admission is overwhelmingly because of the lack of qualified faculty to teach those individuals, says Marilyn DeLuca, RN, PhD, CNA, executive director of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence.
The faculty shortage is even more disturbing when one considers that many will soon retire. The average age for todays nursing faculty with a doctoral degree is 57 years, DeLuca says.
Many of the nurses who could fill those shoes are instead working in the more lucrative areas of clinical practice or in pharmaceutical, managed care, and other industries, according to DeLuca.
In November, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence released a Request for Proposals on the Scholars Program. Although the names of the schools that will be invited to submit full proposals cannot yet be named, DeLuca says the applicant schools will submit proposals by mid-February 2008. A Jonas Center committee will review the applications and visit final candidate institutions during March to inform funding decisions. The selected Jonas Scholars at the funded schools will begin to receive support as of September 2008.
Each Jonas Scholar selected will be awarded a maximum of $70,000 per year for each of four years. The Scholars who receive these awards will agree to complete a doctoral degree in four years; limit salaried employment during the course of study; begin teaching nursing full-time with a school of nursing in the New York City metropolitan area within four months of completing the doctoral degree; and remain in the area as nursing faculty for a minimum of four years.
Achieving a doctoral degree in nursing typically takes longer than four years, according to DeLuca. But since this generous grant covers living expenses, the scholars can focus on school, without having to work full-time to make ends meet. The goal, DeLuca says, is to entice nurses into nursing education early in their careers even while they have other financial obligations, such as unpaid college loans or families to support.
There are applications that will be given priority because of the need for nurse educators with specific expertise. For example, DeLuca says, there is a need for nursing faculty with expertise in geriatrics, psychiatry, and public health nursing.Marilyn DeLuca, RN, PhD, CNA, executive director of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence
A Blueprint for the Nation
The Jonas Center has formed a Nursing Scholars Collaborative to present the need to fund nursing scholars to other philanthropies. The Jonas Scholars Program, DeLuca says, serves as a blueprint for other philanthropies and might even spur government to earmark more dollars for fellowships. Government support for nursing education is greatly cut back from what it was 40 years ago, according to DeLuca.
In the 1960s and early 70s, the Title VIII federal program supported fellowships that provided tuition support and living stipends for individuals to pursue concentrated doctoral nursing studies. Today, we have about one-seventh of the dollars we had from Title VIII money in the 60s, DeLuca says. Increasing this effort with more philanthropic money could provide the incentive to attract more nurses to go into academia; this could have a huge impact, DeLuca says.
The Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is leading a national nursing policy summit to be held in Washington, D.C. in May 2008. We are defining a number of key issues to inform legislative staff and policymakers. Well bring proposed solutions to those issues, including that of the nurse faculty shortage, DeLuca says.
For more information, go to www.jonascenter.org.