UNION COUNTY – New Jersey, like the rest of the country, is facing potentially crippling nurse and nurse faculty shortages. Without enough prospective nursing students to fill the gap or sufficient nurse faculty to teach them, the Garden State’s health would suffer.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is working hard to change that dire prognosis, and this week announced the graduation of 18 RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars. Two are from Union County: Primerose Germain, M.S.N., R.N., of Vauxhall, earned her M.S.N. degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ); and Andrea Taylor, M.S.N., R.N., of Rahway, earned her M.S.N. degree from Kean University. Germain is now adjunct faculty in the B.S.N program at UMDNJ and Taylor is now part-time faculty at Kean. Both will begin teaching in the fall.
“My long term career goal is to become a nurse educator and administrator within the nursing profession. To assist in the development of culturally sensitive nurses that have a sincere passion for the profession and compassion for the patients they will serve. My second goal is to continue to serve the underserved community through education, social support programs with a holistic approach,” said Taylor.
NJNI is a multi-year, multi-million dollar project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The program provides generous benefits and support to help RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars complete their advanced degree studies. Upon graduation, Scholars have the opportunity to receive financial incentives if they become faculty members at schools of nursing in the state.
“We are so proud to announce the graduation of our first cohort of Scholars,” said NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., P.N.P.-B.C. “They represent the future of nursing in the state and will be preparing the next generation of nurses for the health care challenges that lie ahead. We look to them to be leaders and to become an integral part of our long-term efforts to transform nursing and nurse education in New Jersey.” Bakewell-Sachs is interim provost of The College of New Jersey.
The goal of NJNI is to increase the number of nurse faculty in the state, so there will be enough nurses to meet the health care needs of New Jersey residents. The Faculty Preparation Program is a key part of NJNI’s strategy. It has awarded $13.5 million in grants to New Jersey-based nursing programs and education collaboratives, and includes 60 New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are completing master’s or doctoral degrees. Each 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 faculty members at New Jersey nursing schools are approaching retirement, and there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill their positions. In addition, few practicing nurses have the qualifications to teach. All nurse faculty must hold at least a master’s degree. NJNI is attracting younger nurses to faculty roles; they are likely to enjoy significantly longer teaching careers than average nurse faculty members who go into higher education mid-way through their careers.
The scholars’ graduation comes as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is embarking on a campaign to transform the nursing profession to improve health and health care. Based on the recommendations from a groundbreaking Institute of Medicine nursing report released last year—The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, RWJF is spearheading the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action to engage nurses and non-nurses in a nationwide effort to overhaul the nursing profession. The campaign is working to implement solutions to the challenges facing the nursing profession and to build upon nurse-based approaches to improving quality and transforming the way Americans receive health care.
NJNI is a partner in this effort, and serves as the coordinating office for the New Jersey Action Coalition, an advocacy organization led by a team of recognized and highly-respected leaders in health and health care. New Jersey’s Action Coalition includes four volunteer-led work groups, each tasked with developing and implementing plans to advance a goal identified in the report as a priority. The Action Coalition draws its strength from New Jersey nursing and non-nursing leaders working together to devise solutions.
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