Two Union County Nurses Awarded Scholarships

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TRENTON– What if New Jersey ran out of teachers and schoolchildren were left in the lurch? What if state police and firefighter academies had fewer and fewer instructors each year to meet the demand? An equally devastating yet quiet crisis is brewing in nursing programs across the state. Many do not have–or because of pending retirements soon will not have–enough faculty to teach nursing students. The looming nurse faculty shortage could have damaging repercussions for the health and health care of New Jersey residents for years to come.

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is working to ensure that does not happen. This month, NJNI has named 20 RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars. Two of them are from Union county: Diane Cukrow, B.S.N., R.N., from Fanwood, earning her M.S.N. in Nursing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Karen Hoary, B.S.N., R.N., from Elizabeth, earning her M.S.N. in Nursing from Monmouth University.

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NJNI is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation (NJCCF). RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars receive generous benefits and support to help them complete their graduate or doctoral studies. Upon graduation, Scholars have the opportunity to receive financial incentives if they become faculty members at schools of nursing in the state. Because the incentives are available for a period of up to three years, there is an increased likelihood that Scholars will remain in state nursing programs to educate the next generation of the New Jersey’s nursing workforce.

“There is no question that we are facing an alarming nurse faculty shortage in this state. But thanks to NJNI’s work, we are creating the framework for lasting solutions. The RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars are a critical part of this strategy,” said NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., P.N.P.-B.C. “Last year we welcomed our first class of 29 Scholars, and we are proud to announce our second and final class of 20, who will begin their studies this fall. Our faculty preparation program is showing enormous promise, and we expect great things from our Scholars in years ahead.” Bakewell-Sachs is dean of the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey.

“I’ve always wanted to continue my nursing education, it was just a matter of when and how, this scholarship gave me the opportunity to do so. I love the education aspect of my nursing career, educating my patients, patients families and fellow nurses. Receiving my masters in nursing education will allow me to broaden my nursing career and prepare me to educate aspiring nursing students to help lead them into this wonderful rewarding career.,” said Hoary.

The goal of NJNI is to increase the number of nurse faculty in the state, so there will be enough nurses to meet the needs of state residents. The Faculty Preparation Program has awarded $13.5M in grants to New Jersey based nursing programs and education collaboratives. Each Scholar has received a scholarship covering tuition and fees, and a $50,000 per year stipend to cover living expenses for the two to four years spent as full-time students.

Many current nurse faculty members are approaching retirement, and there are not enough replacements in the pipeline to fill their positions. Few practicing nurses have the qualifications to teach; only nine percent have a master’s degree, and just one percent of registered nurses have a doctorate. That is due to significant challenges to becoming nurse faculty, including the prerequisite that all nurse faculty obtain at least a master’s degree.

Many nurses practice first and get advanced degrees later. The lack of available scholarships has caused many nurse faculty members to pursue their graduate studies part-time. The median time span for nurses to proceed from masters to doctorate is now 15.9 years. As a result, the mean age of nurse faculty prepared at the doctoral level is 54. Because these nurses continue their education later in life, nurse faculty may not have long full-time teaching careers.

NJNI is attracting younger nurses to faculty roles; they are likely to enjoy a significantly longer teaching career than the average nurse faculty who joins mid career.

The newest cohort of Scholars includes:

  • Jamie Boman, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Ruta Brazaitis, B.S.N., R.N., William Paterson University, College of Science and Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Christine Brewer, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Catherine Carlton, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Tammy Cooper, B.S.N., R.N.-B.C., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Nursing, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Marjory Desulme, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Caitlin Fett, B.S.N., R.N., The College of New Jersey, School of Nursing, Health, & Exercise Science, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Nancy Flood, B.S.N., R.N., Monmouth University, School of Nursing and Health Studies, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Marlin Gross, B.S.N., R.N., Richard Stockton College, School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Stephanie Henson, B.S.N., R.N., Richard Stockton College, School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Renee Kurz, B.S.N., R.N., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Nursing, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Tony Malek, B.S.N., R.N., C.B.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Alexander Manning, B.S.N., R.N., The College of New Jersey, School of Nursing, Health, & Exercise Science, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Janice McConnon, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Nancy Mills, B.S.N., R.N., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Nursing, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Shelby Pitts, B.S.N., R.N., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Nursing, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Grace Qarmout, B.S.N., R.N., Fairleigh Dickinson University, The Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, M.S.N. in Nursing Program
  • Laura Zakresky, B.S.N., R.N., Kean University, College of Natural, Applied, and Health Sciences, M.S.N. in Nursing Program

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