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Simmons Nursing Department Receives Distinguished Scholarship Awards

Grants funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & American Association of Colleges of Nursing

BOSTON (June 29, 2010) — The Simmons College Nursing Program announced today that it is one of 63 schools nationwide that will receive funding to award 12 scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). Scholarships provided through this competitive program will be given to students traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing.

"It is crucial that the nursing workforce be reflective of the patient population," said Judy Beal, D.N.Sc., chair of the Simmons nursing program and interim dean of the Simmons School of Health Sciences.
"To be able to provide a scholarship to a student from a disadvantaged and underrepresented group is a wonderful gift, and will help our profession to reach the goal of increasing diversity."
At Simmons, 12 scholarships of $10,000 each will be awarded to students entering the accelerated nursing program and the direct-entry master's program during the 2010-2011 academic year.

The $120,000 total award will give Simmons students — who would normally need to work to support themselves while in school — the opportunity to finish the program on a full-time basis in 18-months. The scholarships complement Simmons's highly successful Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program, which annually offers 10 to 40 nursing students — many of whom are from underrepresented groups in nursing or disadvantaged backgrounds — with academic support, networking and mentoring from Simmons nursing faculty, as well as a cadre of well-respected nursing leaders who serve as mentors.

To date, the NCIN program has supported 1,917 students at 101 schools of nursing since its launch in 2008, and strives to develop culturally competent health professionals and future leaders in the profession.

"Through the NCIN program, we are challenging the nation's nursing schools to be innovative and resourceful in how they grow their nursing programs, diversify student populations and contribute to the nursing leadership of tomorrow," said Denise A. Davis, Dr. P.H, RWJF program officer for NCIN. "We are very pleased to support this unique approach, particularly at a time when a growing number of Americans are gaining insurance and entering our health care system."

The NCIN program was created through RWJF and AACN to enable schools of nursing to expand student capacity in accelerated baccalaureate and master's programs, and build a more diverse workforce ready to serve the needs of a changing patient population. Schools receiving grants through NCIN provide scholarships directly to students from groups underrepresented in nursing or from disadvantaged backgrounds. In its second year, 58 percent of scholarships went to students from diverse racial and ethnic groups and 37 percent went to male nursing students. Men currently account for only 6.6 percent of the national nursing population. The Simmons nursing program will award two scholarships to men in the Direct Entry Master's program.

The NCIN program addresses a number of the challenges confronting nursing education, professional development, and the national workforce shortage. Accelerated programs like the ones supported by NCIN provide scholars with the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and create opportunities for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a field other than nursing. These programs prepare students to pass the licensure examine required for all RNs in as little as 12-18 months and provide quicker routes to workforce eligibility than traditional programs.
By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master's degree levels, the NCIN 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 via baccalaureate programs are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing.

Finally, the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program seems to be having a positive effect on the nation's nursing schools. Many programs that received awards have used the NCIN funding to help leverage additional resources to add new faculty, secure matching funding from state programs, develop mentoring and leadership development programs, strengthen outreach efforts, and establish new partnerships with community and practice leaders.

Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. The Simmons School of Health Sciences is a nationally recognized school that includes four graduate programs: nursing (advanced primary care), nutrition and health promotion, health care administration, and physical therapy. Simmons nursing students' pass rate on the (NCLEX) Registered Nurse exam is 94% percent for first time takers and 100% for accelerated students. The national average is 88 percent. (According to National Council of State Board of Nursing).

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 640 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's — and graduate — degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.