Meet New Careers in Nursing

Feb 12, 2013, 9:00 AM

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

A few years ago, Natasha Leland was a professional opera singer. John Pederzolli was in financial sales. And Blake Smith was a high school soccer coach. Today, all are nurses, thanks to support from New Careers in Nursing (NCIN), a program of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Since 2008, NCIN has helped facilitate more than 2,700 scholarships for second career nurses entering accelerated degree programs. Thanks to resources and support from NCIN, these students—who are from groups underrepresented in nursing—are quickly entering the workforce, ready to provide high quality patient care and become leaders in the profession.

Before realizing their dreams of becoming nurses, NCIN scholars had a wide variety of professions: customer service, teacher, aviation safety professional, and even professional clown, among others. Each Scholar brings unique life and real-world experience to his or her new career. That makes them well-equipped to handle a fast-paced training program, and the demands of the profession.

NCIN has helped alleviate some of the burden on schools of nursing, which too often turn away qualified students because of capacity issues.

NCIN has awarded more than $27 million in grants to 119 schools of nursing in 41 states and the District of Columbia, which in turn have been used to provide scholarships to students enrolled in accelerated baccalaureate and master's degree nursing programs.

The program has also led the way in shaping accelerated nursing programs and nursing education. NCIN offers resources to schools of nursing for their NCIN scholars—including guidance on mentoring, leadership development, diversity, and orientation programs—and many schools have begun offering the resources to all accelerated nursing students.

Learn more about NCIN.

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