Meet the New Jersey Nursing Initiative

Aug 29, 2012, 9:00 AM

This is part of a series introducing programs in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Portfolio.

New Jersey has a staggering 10.5 percent vacancy rate for nurse faculty.

If those positions are not filled, nursing schools may have to turn away prospective students, which would exacerbate the shortage of nurses required to meet the state’s growing health care needs. That shortage could have a significant negative effect on health and health care in New Jersey.

Additionally, many faculty at New Jersey nursing schools are approaching retirement, and there are not enough people in the pipeline to fill the positions. The situation is dire, but a relatively young statewide initiative is working to change that.

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation. NJNI’s goal 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.

Since its launch at a state Senate hearing in May 2009, the initiative has prepared young nursing scholars to take on leadership roles and has brought the issue of the nurse faculty shortage to the attention of policy-makers, businesses, academia, and health and community leaders.

Its signature Faculty Preparation Program is preparing 61 RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars to become the next generation of nurse faculty in the state. Of those, at least 21 will be doctorally prepared candidates.

More than 1300 New Jersey nursing students in graduate study are receiving assistance through the Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey (ARC). The ARC is an online tool that helps graduate nursing students with their writing; its goal is to strengthen students’ skills and, in so doing, improve student retention. It is supported by NJNI and Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, an initiative of RWJF and the Northwest Health Foundation.

NJNI’s website is a valuable resource on nursing in the Garden State. It includes fact sheets, nursing program data, county-specific information, profiles of nurse faculty and more. The NJNI blog provides a weekly news roundup of nursing news in the state and other updates.

NJNI’s newly launched, a website providing important information about what a career as nurse faculty involves and the pathway to that career, is the first such resource in the state.

NJNI also serves as the headquarters for the New Jersey Action Coalition, part of the national Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a collaborative effort 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.

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative has achieved a lot since its launch three years ago, and has more still to accomplish. Keep up with the program at

Learn more about the New Jersey Nursing Initiative and its leaders and scholars here, here, here and here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.