Nine N.J. Nursing Scholars Complete Advanced Degree Programs

N.J. Nursing Initiative’s first PhD graduates join pipeline of nurses prepared to fill faculty positions in the Garden State.

    • May 20, 2013

Trenton, N.J.—After four years of innovation in response to New Jersey’s nurse faculty shortage, the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) will reach a milestone during the spring graduation season: the first New Jersey Nursing Scholars to complete PhD degrees. Following the graduation of five PhD scholars at Seton Hall University on May 18, three at Rutgers on May 23, plus one master of science in nursing (MSN) scholar at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey on May 20, NJNI will have supported 47 scholars whose master’s or doctoral degrees qualify them for nurse faculty positions.

An additional 13 PhD scholars and one additional MSN scholar continue in their programs with the support of NJNI, which was launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2009 to address the state’s staggering 10.5 percent nurse faculty vacancy rate and help avert a projected shortage of more than 23,000 nurses in New Jersey by 2030.

“This is truly a watershed moment for NJNI,” said RWJF Senior Program Officer Maryjoan D. Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN. “With just two nursing PhD programs in New Jersey, it’s a challenge to get 21 scholars through those institutions. The fact that the first eight PhD scholars have completed their programs in four years, when it often takes considerably longer, reflects an amazing commitment from the schools and intense mentoring from faculty. And it reflects the potential these women and men have to be dynamic forces in nursing education and practice.”

The New Jersey Nursing Scholars graduating this month include:

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

  • Rahshida Atkins, PhD, APN, FNP-BC, whose research focus is depression in Black single mothers;
  • Tracy Perron, PhD, RN, whose research focus is school bullying;
  • Robert Scoloveno, PhD, RN, whose research focus is how resilience affects the health outcomes of middle adolescents;

Seton Hall University

  • Connie Kartoz, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, whose research focus is medication adherence in older adults living independently in the community;
  • Sheila Linz, PhD, PMHNP-BC, RN, whose research focus is social isolation in the severely mentally ill;
  • Maria Torchia LoGrippo, PhD, RN, whose research focus is how trusting relationships between pregnant women and certified nurse-midwives lead to positive outcomes for mothers and their babies;
  • Kristi Stinson, PhD, RN, APN-C, whose research focus is attitudes toward the use of physical restraints in critical care environments;
  • Munira Wells, PhD, RN, whose research focus is New Jersey nurses who were born in India and faced culture shock in the United States; and

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

  • Julie Aseltta, MSN, RN.

“The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are part of the legacy of NJNI,” said Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, “but more importantly, they are part of the future of nursing in New Jersey. They were chosen because of their skills and accomplishments, but also because of NJNI’s hope for tomorrow—that these scholars will become the next generation of faculty we need to be sure we can teach the next generation of nurses. I’m so happy with the progress we’ve made.”

Current data show that the nursing population is aging, with only 8 percent of New Jersey nurses younger than 30. The average age of the state’s nurses is 51, and the average age of nurse faculty is 55. A recent study projects that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 23,358 nurses in New Jersey, indicating that NJNI’s work and similar efforts are crucial to ensuring that enough nurses can be trained to meet future health care needs in the Garden State.

NJNI has awarded $21.5 million to a group of institutions of higher education to support the 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars with full tuition and fees, a $50,000 annual stipend and a laptop computer. In addition to supporting scholars as part of its Faculty Preparation Program, NJNI developed the Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey, an online tool for graduate-level nursing students; and supported the Nursing Centralized Application System, to streamline the nursing school application process for prospective students and monitor the availability of slots in nursing programs. NJNI also launched WeTeachNursingNJ.org, a website dedicated to nurse faculty career information.

NJNI has also led the development of several clinical innovations projects across the state to more closely link nursing education and practice, including dedicated education units and renewed education for clinical preceptors; and it has a key role in the New Jersey Action Coalition, which helps the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 2010 nursing report as part of a nationwide effort to transform nursing and the delivery of health care in America.

The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are available for interviews, and photographs of them are available upon request.

Media Contact:

Christine Clayton | Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | media@rwjf.org | 609-627-5937
Gretchen Wright | PR Solutions | gretchen@prsolutionsdc.com | 202-371-1999

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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 health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 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. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.