Foundation Initiative Catapults Maryann Magloire-Wilson into Academia

    • July 30, 2009

The Problem: Aspiring nurse educators in New Jersey and across the country are eager to train the next generation of nurses, but many can’t make the transition from the bedside to the lectern because they lack the resources needed to enter academia.

Background: A clinical care nurse in New Jersey, Maryann Magloire-Wilson, R.N., B.A., spent her days at the hospital but dreamed of returning to the classroom so she could teach. One thing, however, stood in her way: an advanced degree.

Magloire-Wilson had earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an associate’s degree in nursing, but lacked the resources to enroll full-time in a master’s or doctoral degree program so she could become a nursing professor. A mother of four young children, Magloire-Wilson couldn’t afford to quit her job and forego her salary for several years to earn the degree she would need.

Even if she could have afforded it, the investment in an advanced education would not necessarily pay off financially, she says. “The overwhelming perception is that going back to school may be counterproductive” because educators—even those with terminal degrees—often earn less than practicing nurses.

Still, Magloire-Wilson longed to teach nursing students the ins and outs of patient care, engage in scholarly research and debate, and work a more family-friendly schedule.

She decided to pursue that goal, despite the obstacles. Indeed, as a first-generation American born to Haitian immigrants, Magloire-Wilson had overcome high hurdles before. Born with a stutter that left her virtually mute through adolescence, she had learned to speak fluently, excelled in the U.S. school system, and figured out how to manage the dual demands of work and family.

So she made a deal with herself and her family. Instead of quitting her job and enrolling in a full-time master’s degree program, she would continue to work and pursue her degree one graduate-level nursing course at a time. That way, she could still provide and care for her children and, at the same time, take steps to reach her professional goals.

Hers might be a dream deferred, but it would not be a dream denied.

Now, thanks to a New Jersey Nursing Initiative scholarship, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Magloire-Wilson doesn’t have to put off her dreams any longer.

Last spring, Magloire-Wilson was named a New Jersey Nursing Scholar and, as such, will receive a scholarship to complete her studies and become a nurse educator. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition and fees and provides her with an annual stipend of $50,000, as well as a laptop computer. In exchange, she has agreed to teach nursing in the state for three years after completing her education.

Now, instead of taking a piecemeal approach to her studies, Magloire-Wilson is enrolled full-time in the master’s nursing program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. After she completes that program, she hopes to begin work toward earning her doctoral degree.

The scholarship will enable Magloire-Wilson to become a professor in two years—rather than the decades it might otherwise have taken. She is thankful that, as a full-time student with financial support afforded through the stipend, she will have more time to spend with her family

“Even now it seems too good to be true,” she says. “For this tremendous gift I will be forever grateful and humbled.”

The Solution: Magloire-Wilson is not the only one who will benefit from the Foundation’s financial help; society will too.

That’s the belief behind the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a five-year $22 million program designed to bolster the Garden State’s nursing workforce. The program is providing $13.5 million in grants for masters- and doctoral-level nursing programs in the state and has pledged to support 46 RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars like Magloire-Wilson.

The Initiative’s underlying mission is to curb a looming shortage of nurses that threatens to seriously undermine the quality of patient care. The New Jersey Nursing Initiative aims to help reverse that shortage by providing the financial support aspiring nurse educators need to become faculty.

RWJF Perspective: The current economic climate has mitigated some of the immediate effects of the nursing shortage. As a result of the recession, part-time nurses have taken on more hours and retired nurses have rejoined the workforce to compensate for lost income due to shrinking retirement accounts or layoffs in the family. As a result, the shortage has temporarily eased. In many parts of the country, nursing jobs are harder to find than they were in recent years, especially for nurses who are new to the field.

But as the recession lifts—and as nurses reduce their workloads again and move toward retirement—a severe nursing shortage will deprive patients of the quality of care they need. To curb—and ultimately reverse—that shortage, the nation needs to put more nurse faculty in place to meet projected demands for nurses. Understanding this, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has lent its support to the New Jersey Nursing Initiative.

Learn more about The New Jersey Nursing Initiative at www.njni.org.