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Providing Assistance for Graduate Nursing Students: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing and the Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars

Posted: Oct. 25, 2016

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing and the Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars are providing financial support, mentoring and leadership development for six doctoral students.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholarships

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program was created to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs by providing financial support, mentoring and leader- ship development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. The UT Austin School of Nursing is one of 32 schools of nursing in the nation to receive this grant.

Carolyn Phillips, MSN, RN
2016 RWJF Scholar

Carolyn received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing. She is a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner and advanced certified oncology nurse practitioner. Carolyn has pursued research in cancer survivorship in addition to her clinical practice and received the Innovative Ideas in Health-care Award from SVH Support in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She used the grant to build the infrastructure for the Community Nursing Research Center at the community oncology clinic in Santa Fe. To date, four community oncology nurses are actively pursuing their research interests with the mentoring and support from nurse scientists from the University of New Mexico. She also created Songs for the Soul, a program that helps oncology, palliative care and hospice nurses address compassion fatigue by combining the healing effects of expressive writing, storytelling, and music to facilitate a deeper exploration of the nursing experience. Carolyn is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, the International Society for Nurses in Cancer Care and the American Holistic Nursing Association.

Davika Reid, MSN, RN
2016 RWJF Scholar

Davika is a first-year doctoral student who received her Master of Science in Nursing in public health at UT Austin in 2016. As a neonatal intensive care nurse with a passion for public and global health, she has focused her research on increasing access to health care services for vulnerable populations. As a nurse volunteer at the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic and through collaboration with the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics, she has worked to provide training on legislative advocacy to clinics across
the state through a training program for health care executives that was held at
the State Capitol. Throughout her career, Davika has served as a preceptor and mentor to new graduate nurses and has been a Capstone/Integration preceptor and teaching assistant to both undergraduate and alternative-entry students at UT Austin. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, serving on the leadership succession committee of the UT Austin chapter, the Texas Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association. Through her Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowship, Davika seeks to become a well-rounded nurse leader, innovator and influencer to make health care more welcoming and equitable for those who need it the most.

Jonas Nurse Scholars Program Scholarship

The Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars at the School of Nursing was made possible by a grant from the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, a scholarship program dedicated to building the effectiveness of America’s professional nurses, and generous matching funds by School of Nursing donors. Scholars receive two years of support, attend a scholar leadership development conference, complete a web-based leadership development component and work with a designated faculty mentor.

Kimberly Lewis, MSN, RN
2016-2018 Jonas Scholar

Kimberly is a research specialist RN at the Seton Network. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science from UT Austin and a master’s degree in child health nursing and teaching in the School of Nursing’s alternate entry-MSN program. She decided to become a nurse after volunteering at Dell Children’s Medical Center in both the NICU and the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center, where she witnessed the impact of exceptional nursing care on the lives of patients. She has worked in pediatric critical care, clinical research, home health and outpatient settings. Her dissertation topic is related to inflammation and nutrition in pediatric chronic conditions with a current focus on children with juvenile arthritis. Kimberly is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Young Women’s Alliance, UT Austin Graduate Student Assembly-Academic Affairs Committee and the Seton Nursing Research Council. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball and traveling with her 11-year-old daughter, Violet.

Kari McDonald, MSN, RN
2016-2018 Jonas Scholar

Kari graduated in 1987 from Texas State University (formerly known as Southwest Texas State University) with a bachelor’s degree in music with a concentration in voice performance and an alternate-entry Master of Science in Nursing with a parent/child focus in 2006. Kari worked as a labor and delivery nurse prior to teaching for nine years in an accredited associate degree nursing program in Austin. Kari returned to the School of Nursing to work on a PhD in nursing and her primary dissertation and research focus is LGBTQ adolescents and mental health. She has participated in global mission work in West Africa and continues to contribute to medical mission work, targeting the education of clinic workers and community health assistants. Her current mission focus is in Uganda where she will work with a new fistula clinic. Kari is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International (Epsilon Theta Chapter), the Association of Nurses in Graduate School, the National League of Nursing, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Nicole Murry, BSN, RN
2016-2018 Jonas Scholar

Nicole is pursuing a PhD in nursing with a focus on health literacy. As a nurse educator in neonatal intensive care, Nicole observed that when the delivery of health information was tailored to meet the needs of parents, which often included clear verbal and written communication, patients and parents fared better. When she transitioned to a position working with health care leaders across the state, Nicole learned that meeting the health literacy needs of patients is a common challenge among health care organizations. Committed to system-level solutions to ad- dress the health literacy needs of all patients, her dissertation will result in the development of a tool designed to measure health care organizational attributes related to patient health literacy. When she is not busy with research, she enjoys working with the next generation of nursing students as an assistant instructor at the School of Nursing.

Amanda Simonton, BSN, RN
2016-2018 Jonas Scholar

Amanda is a third-year doctoral student who received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UT Austin. She is also a first-year master’s student in the psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program. Her research focus is mental health promotion with an emphasis on reducing substance abuse and improving recovery from addictive substances. Her professional goal is to become a tenure-track faculty member within a top-tier research-oriented nursing school. She wants to contribute to leading-edge research, health care policy changes and the education of an expanding population of graduate-trained nurses. Amanda currently works as a teaching assistant/ graduate research assistant at the School of Nursing and is
a nurse in the Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department at University Medical Center Brackenridge Hospital. Amanda is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Southern Nursing Research Society and the Association of Nurses in Graduate School.


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