Category Archives: Grant Awards

Mar 22 2012

RWJF Launches New Initiative to Support Academic Progression in Nursing

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) yesterday announced the launch of the Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) initiative, to advance state and regional strategies to create a more highly educated nursing workforce. The $4.3 million, Phase 1 two year-initiative will provide funding to state Action Coalitions as they work to advance the recommendation in the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, that 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level by 2020.

The nine funded Action Coalitions will each work on at least one strategy related to academic progression and at least one related to employment for baccalaureate or higher-prepared nurses, to ensure demand for their services. Thus, academic-service partnerships are key to the success of this effort.

“Our Action Coalitions around the country have generated extraordinary collaboration between nurses and other leaders, who are working together to build a more highly educated and diverse nursing workforce, promote nurse leadership, support interprofessional collaboration, ensure that nurses practice to the full extent of their education and training, and improve data collection,” Susan B. Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing, said in a release. “We are confident that the new models they create will be replicable and help achieve our goal to have 80 percent of the nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by 2020. Advancing a more highly educated, diverse workforce is essential to achieving the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s mission to improve health and health care in this country.”

The initiative will be led by the Tri-Council for Nursing, consisting of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, National League for Nursing, American Nurses Association and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.

Learn more about the Campaign for Action.

Read more about the Action Coalitions.

Watch the Action Coalition video series.

Mar 5 2012

RWJF Scholar Puts GPS Technology to Work Fighting Asthma

David Van Sickle, PhD, MA, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program and founder and CEO of Asthmapolis, has created a new device called a Spiroscout. It is an inhaler with a built-in Global-Positioning System (GPS) that sends a signal with the time and location to a remote server every time a patient uses it. Asthmapolis tracks and analyzes the data and sends regular reports to patients and physicians, along with observations and recommendations.


Last summer, RWJF’s Alumni Network talked with Van Sickle, an epidemiologist and medical anthropologist, and then this month, the RWJF Human Capital Blog followed up with a few more questions. The combined results of those conversations follow:

RWJF Alumni Network (AN): Have you always been working on asthma?

David Van Sickle: My whole career has been focused on asthma. I did my dissertation research on asthma in India and worked at the respiratory center in Arizona during grad school. When I was at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I was working in outbreak investigations, trying to figure out where and when asthma was happening, so we could better target our public health activities.

AN: How did you get the idea for your company?

Van Sickle: At the national level, we suffer from a lack of data about the day-to-day burden of asthma. When I went to the University of Wisconsin with the RWJF fellowship, and began to look more closely at the clinical management of asthma, I realized that physicians also suffered from a lack of information on how their patients were doing. I thought we could solve these two problems with one new technology that tracked where and when people are using their inhalers, which provides an important signal of how well the disease is being managed.

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Feb 27 2012

Honors, Awards, Accomplishments...

The following are among the honors received recently by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows and grantees.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program National Advisory Committee (NAC) member James Knickman, PhD, was among those honored by the National Hispanic Health Foundation as an outstanding role model who has transformed health care for underserved communities.

Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, also a member of the Health & Society Scholars program NAC was named to a panel of external advisors for the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research.

Mary Mazanec, MD, JD, an alumna of the RWJF Health Policy Fellows program, has been named the new director of the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service.

Health Policy Fellows alumna Nancy Ridenour, PhD, RN, was named New Mexico Distinguished Nurse of the Year (2011) by the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence.

The University of New Mexico announced the selection of Health Policy Fellows alumnus Robert G. Frank, PhD, as its new president. Frank will take office in June 2012.

RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Maria Katapodi, PhD, RN, is the project director of a multidisciplinary team at the University of Michigan that received a three-year, $900,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study methods to increase cancer screening by young breast cancer survivors and their high-risk female relatives.

Kathleen Stevens, EdD, RN, FAAN, an RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) grantee, received the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International’s Episteme Award. It is one of nursing’s most prestigious research honors. As part of the award, Stevens will be inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame in July 2012 at the society’s 23rd International Nursing Research Congress in Australia.

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Feb 21 2012

How Central Massachusetts Increased Access to Oral Health Care for Low-Income Children

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so the Human Capital Blog reached out to John Gusha, DMD, PC, a 2003 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Community Health Leader, to learn more about children’s oral health. As project director of the Central Massachusetts Oral Health Initiative, Gusha mobilized dozens of dental societies and non-profit groups to provide dental care for low-income residents of Worcester County. Although funding for the Oral Health Initiative has ended, many of the programs Gusha helped create are still in place.


Human Capital Blog: What spurred the Central Massachusetts Oral Health Initiative? What made you aware of this need for oral health care in your community?

John Gusha: There was a special legislative report in 2000 that described disparities in access to oral health care for low-income populations. It raised a lot of questions about what we could be doing in the community and in the dental society to address these gaps. We got funding from the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, which also saw this as a critical need for our area, to launch the initiative.

HCB: Tell us about the school-based programs you put in place.

Gusha: The decay rate in Worcester County schools was very high—more than one-third of the students had active decay in their mouths. It was especially prominent in schools with high numbers of free and reduced price lunches, where students came from low-income families that are more likely to be using Medicaid. These students didn’t have access to care and weren’t getting the preventive services they needed.

We started a school-based program that is now in place in more than 30 Worcester County schools. Dental hygiene students from a local community college provide fluoride varnishes, cleanings and other preventive services to students, and the University of Massachusetts’ Ronald McDonald “Care Mobile” visits schools to offer the same services. Community health centers also participate in these programs by adding dental to their school-based health centers. In the past you could go to schools and provide services, but Medicaid rules didn’t allow you to get reimbursed. We were able to help get those rules changed so the program could become sustainable.

HCB: You also had a role in creating a dental residency program and training primary care providers to screen for oral health needs.

Gusha: We wanted to better integrate dentistry into medicine. The University of Massachusetts was the administrator of our program, and the team there developed a dental residency program at the medical school. The University had no classes in oral health before this. The local hospitals were in desperate need of professionals with this kind of training, particularly in emergency rooms. The Medicaid population was presenting there frequently for treatment because they had nowhere else to go, and people with other issues like cardiac problems or cancer needed clearance on their oral health in order to proceed with treatment.

The residency program is still in place at our two local community health centers, and it’s grown now to include education for other disciplines.

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Nov 14 2011

New Federal Initiative Aims to Expand the Health Care Workforce

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a new initiative to test creative ways to deliver high-quality care and reduce costs, while also expanding the health care workforce. The “Health Care Innovation Challenge” will award $1 billion in grants to improve care for people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with priority given to projects that focus on rapid workforce development and deployment.

“We know that Americans face barriers to health care,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a press conference announcing the initiative. “The good news is that people are already working to solve these problems across the country, developing and leading innovative solutions to some of our most pressing problems. The Innovation Challenge builds on those efforts.”

The Innovation Challenge is not just about adding jobs, said Richard Gilfillan, MD, acting director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center. This is “about identifying those… types of jobs and ways of educating, training and deploying people that add value and decrease costs over time… It will help the system learn what those jobs should be, how we can train people for them and how we can deploy them.”

Leaders promise that the initiative will move quickly; supported projects must begin within six months of receiving their grant awards in March 2012. Grants are likely to range from $1 million to $30 million over three years. Proposals must address how the projects will be sustainable.

Read a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Lean more about the Health Care Innovation Challenge.

Sep 19 2011

Honors, Awards, Accomplishments...

The following are among the recent milestones achieved by RWJF scholars and alumni.

Karen Hein, MD, an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Fellows program, was appointed by Vermont governor Peter Shumlin to the Green Mountain Care Board—the five-member panel established by the state’s recent health care reform law that will work to replace private insurance with a state plan. The Vermont Press Bureau reports that Governor Shumlin “called Hein one of Vermont’s hidden gems.”

Two RWJF grantees received NIH Research Career Development in Comparative Effectiveness Research (KM1) Awards from the Center for Health Care Improvement and Patient Safety at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Alison Buttenheim, PhD, is an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, and Eileen Lake, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a former grantee of the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI).

Current INQRI grantee Nancy Dunton, PhD, was named one of four honorary fellows of the American Academy of Nursing. The honorary fellows will be celebrated during the American Academy of Nursing's annual conference and meeting on October 15.

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Sep 16 2011

Human Capital News Roundup

Several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars and Fellows have been in the news in recent days. Here’s a sampling.

The Wall Street Journal Ideas Market blog reports on a study in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program alumnus Matt Wray, PhD, MA, and a co-author examine suicides identified by county coroners. The piece, “The Subtle Politics of Suicide Rates,” concludes that determinations of suicide may be affected by whether the coroners are elected or appointed.

“The University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing has been selected as a grant recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program for a second year,” the Columbia Daily Tribune reports. “The school will receive $50,000 to support five students [from backgrounds that] are traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing in the school’s accelerated baccalaureate program.”

The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) reports on a meeting last week of the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network. Lucy Marion, PhD, RN, FAAN, an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program and secretary for the Healthcare Network, gave a presentation at the meeting.

RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Jason Karlawish, MD, was among those quoted in a New York Times story about a small study that finds an insulin nasal spray may delay or slightly improve early Alzheimer’s symptoms. Experts caution the study is only a pilot and is not conclusive. Read a post Karlawish wrote for the Human Capital blog recently about another Alzheimer’s-related issue.

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Sep 7 2011

Investing in Solutions, Locally

Judith Woodruff, J.D., is the director of workforce development at the Northwest Health Foundation and program director for Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, a program of the Northwest Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


The saying goes that all politics is local. But it’s even truer when it comes to the health care workforce. Every community, from large, complex cities to one stop sign rural towns, faces challenges in ensuring they have the educated and skilled health care professionals they need to provide quality health care. But their challenges are different.

That’s something that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and my own organization, the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF), have known for a long time. And the RWJF's and NWHF’s Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) program capitalizes on just that, making investments for local solutions to nursing issues.

The problems facing the nursing workforce don’t have a one-size-fits-all fix. And in our experience, solutions that are developed from outside the local area simply don’t work as well as those developed in your hometown. When local partners engage and participate in change from the onset, the solutions are tailored to the community needs and assets and the partners are invested in the outcomes. Projects become more sustainable, become ingrained in the community experience, and have the potential for long-term impact. That idea, borne of Northwest Health Foundation’s long experience in local and regional collaboration in Oregon and southwest Washington State, is a cornerstone of the PIN project.

The nursing workforce will soon face new patient demographics as our population is aging, becoming more ethnically and racially diverse and experiencing chronic diseases. Additionally, it is predicted that soon more people will gain access to health care services as a result of national and state health care coverage reform. At a time when the social landscape is rapidly changing, investments in nursing are more imperative than ever before.

That’s why we are so pleased to announce 11 new PIN investments to foster innovations in nursing. The regional partnerships supported by the investments are working to find solutions to the most pressing problems facing the nursing workforce. The new funding brings to 61 the number of PIN projects, covering 37 states and collectively, collaborating with more than 500 partners.

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Sep 6 2011

RWJF Community Health Leader Fights Asthma in East Harlem, Door to Door

In May, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a multi-year grant to an asthma prevention and treatment program run by 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leader Ray Lopez of New York City. Lopez is the director of environmental health services at the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service in New York’s East Harlem. The grant award is shared with the New York Academy of Medicine.


Human Capital Blog: First, congratulations on the grant. Would you tell us about the project, please?

Ray Lopez: Our mission is to serve children in East Harlem by helping their families treat and prevent asthma incidents. Asthma rates are unusually high in New York City in general, and the problem’s even more acute in Harlem, the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn where there are all kinds of environmental factors in children’s homes. We’re focused on children in public housing, where there are a number of problems. A lot of the apartments have mold that has grown as a result of leaks, and they’ve also got a lot of cockroaches, and mice, which all contribute as well. What we do, and what this grant will help us do a lot more broadly, is to get treatment for the kids, but also to go into their apartments and get to work on reducing the environmental factors. Sometimes that means identifying moisture sources and safely cleaning the mold. Sometimes it means pressing the city’s housing authority to do major work. Sometimes it involves teaching the adults in the family about the safe use of pesticides and cleaning products. For each family we visit, we work with them to create an individualized service plan, and then we focus on remediating the asthma triggers.

Teaching is a major part of this, too, and the plan is to teach by showing and doing. Families are enrolled with us for a year, and by end of year, we hope they will have accumulated skills to manage these problems on their own in the long-term. It’s a three-year project, in all: two-plus years working with the families, and then a final phase that consists of data analysis and policy initiatives led by the New York Academy of Medicine.

HCB: And then what’s the plan with the data and the analysis?

Lopez: The plan is to build the business case for this kind of intervention, and then to persuade insurance companies and providers that it’s worth the investment to them to spend a little money up front to prevent asthma incidents, rather than paying for them in the emergency room.

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Aug 18 2011

21 New RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows

The executive director of a community clinic in Indiana. The chief nursing officer at a medical center in Nebraska. The first chief nurse practitioner officer in the convenient care industry. The director of clinical informatics for a national managed care consortium.

They are among the 21 new Executive Nurse Fellows announced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as its 2011 cohort. The highly competitive program is designed to expand nurse leadership and position nurses to lead change in the United States health care system. The new Fellows join more than 200 nurse leaders who have participated in the program since it began in 1998.

"The RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program has a storied history and a bright future," said Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is RWJF's senior adviser for nursing. "At the Foundation, we are all very proud of this program which has supported some of the best and brightest nurse leaders in our country. I congratulate all 21 new fellows, who are joining the program at a pivotal moment as we work to transform the nursing profession to better meet the needs of patients in a reformed and fast-changing health care system. I know they will be strong partners in the Campaign for Action as we implement the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine's landmark nursing report and help nurses take their role as partners in providing quality care."

Executive Nurse Fellows hold senior leadership positions in health services, scientific and academic organizations, public health and community-based organizations or systems, and national professional, governmental and policy organizations. They continue in their current positions during their three-year fellowships, and each develops, plans and implements a new initiative to improve health care delivery in her or his community.

Read more about the program and see a list of the 2011 RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows.