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School of Nursing Receives Prestigious Grant to Prepare PhD Nurses: New initiative to help double the number of nurses with doctorates

Posted: July 15, 2015

Whitney Thurman, RN, MSN

Pamela Recto, RN, MSN

The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing has selected two candidates — Whitney Thurman, RN, MSN, and Pamela Recto, RN, MSN — to receive a $150,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that will assist them in completing their doctoral programs. They will begin the Future of Nursing Scholars program and their doctoral studies this summer.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Future of Nursing Scholars program will provide financial support, mentoring and leadership development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. The UT Austin School of Nursing is one of only 25 schools of nursing nationwide to receive such a grant to increase the number of nurses holding doctoral degrees.

“We are honored that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation chose the UT Austin School of Nursing to help further nursing leadership and research by educating two new nurse scholars,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing. “This initiative will assist Whitney and Pam as they develop leadership and research skills for the increasingly challenging health care landscape. We look forward to helping them navigate a rigorous curriculum and prepare to become tomorrow’s nurse leaders.”

Less than 1 percent of the nation’s more than three million nurses have PhDs in nursing or a related field. In addition, the average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the U.S. is 46 — 13 years older than PhD earners in other fields. This program will provide an incentive for nurses to start PhD programs earlier, so that they can have long leadership careers after earning their doctoral degree.

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the United States double the number of nurses with doctorates. Doing so will support more nurse leaders, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses. The Future of Nursing Scholars program is intended to help address that recommendation.

“At RWJF, we are working to build a Culture of Health that enables everyone in the United States to live the healthiest lives possible,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing. “This program will create the transformative nurse leaders who can make that vision a reality by driving crucial changes in health care and inspiring future generations of nurses to achieve even more.”

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