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A grant awarded to the College of Nursing is helping fill the nation’s nursing shortage. For the second year in a row, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program is awarding $10,000 scholarships to select students—those who are making a career switch to nursing and are members of a group that is underrepresented in the field.

This year, eight students will receive scholarships. Last year, five students did. The students are enrolled in the accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing program for the 2013–14 academic year and are either members of an underrepresented group or from a disadvantaged background.

Chad Phillips, a 2012 recipient, pursued the program after working for almost ten years in the health insurance industry.

“In 2006, my grandfather had a stroke, so I stopped working to be his caregiver. The experience proved to me that I have the desire and fortitude to become a nurse,” said Phillips, who changed careers following a job loss in 2011. “I had my severance package saved up, but that was all the money I had. The scholarship was exactly what I needed in order to afford the program.”

The grant addresses national needs cited in a report by the Institute of Medicine, which recommended increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree or higher and increasing the diversity of students.

“This funding will help attract an increasing number of highly skilled individuals from other disciplines who are seeking new careers in nursing,” Dean Victoria Niederhauser said. “These nurses bring a plethora of backgrounds and experiences to the nursing discipline. We have had students who had careers as accountants, business managers, teachers, artists, and public health officials.”

The accelerated program enables students with a bachelor’s degree in another field to complete the bachelor’s degree in a year of full-time study. Students are then eligible to take the national Registered Nurse licensure examination.

Scholarship recipients will participate in a yearlong mentoring program where they will work to develop leadership skills, strategic vision, risk taking, communication effectiveness, and inspiring change. They also will enter a pre-entry immersion program to help them learn study, test-taking, and other skills that will help them manage the challenges of an accelerated program.

The scholarship program was launched in 2008 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Since 2008, the NCIN program has distributed 3,117 scholarships to students at more than 125 nursing schools. This year, funding for 400 scholarships was granted to 52 schools.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health-care issues facing our country. For more information, visit the foundation’s website.

UT’s College of Nursing is a nationally recognized leader in nursing education. The college enrolls more than 600 students in undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs. Visit the College of Nursing website for more information.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

Katie McCay (865-974-764, katie.mccay@utk.edu)