College of Nursing receives $50,000 grant

By Marie MacCune

The University of Massachusetts’ College of Nursing was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The grant will be divided into five awards of $10,000 that will be given to individual students, and those interested in receiving a scholarship go through an intense evaluation process by faculty.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website, the organization is “the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care,” and this is the fifth time the College of Nursing has received this award from the organization.

Clare Lamontagne, clinical assistant professor at the College of Nursing, explained that the foundation is “very interested in academic progression.”

She explained that UMass has been “working with them for probably a decade to help our students move forward in the field of nursing after graduation.”

The College of Nursing is among 51 other schools to receive the award, which was given as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) program known as New Careers in Nursing (NCIN).

“At this time when the nation’s need for highly educated nurses is growing, we are delighted to be able to support nursing students who will bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the field, and become capable, culturally-competent nurses,” RWJF senior program officer David Krol said in a UMass press release.

Added Krol: “NCIN is not only helping these students succeed in school, it is helping prepare the nursing workforce to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

According to its website, NCIN aims to “alleviate the national nursing shortage,” increase diversity in the profession and “expand the capacity baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs.”

In order to receive the grant, Lamontagne said the College of Nursing went through a “very expensive application process.”

She said that for UMass to be a truly competitive candidate, “we have to make sure that our curriculum answers the question, ‘How are our students going to become leaders in nursing?’”

Lamontagne believes that what made the university such an outstanding candidate for the grant is that very commitment to leadership, mentoring and diversity.

“We have alumni come back to act as mentors. We have faculty here that act as mentors, which is critical in developing nurses for the future,” she explained. “They provide resources after graduation and insight into what the profession is like in the real world.”

She also said that the College of Nursing works “very hard to indentify and admit people from underrepresented groups.” For nursing, this not only includes racial minorities but also male students, she said.
Each scholar chosen for the award already has a bachelor’s degree in another field and is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The money is awarded upon the student’s entrance into the program.

The chosen scholars are part of the College of Nursing’s accelerated full-time program.  This 17-month track prepares graduates to take the National Counsel Licensure Examination (NCLEX) upon completion. About 72 students are currently in the program.
According to the College of Nursing’s website, all of the first time test takers of the NCLEX passed last year.

Students who are part of the accelerated program participate in an internship in their chosen field of nursing, accumulating to 270 hours.
Lamontagne believes the internship requirement helps set UMass’ program apart and “really helps with the transition between student and RN.”

Students who have been chosen for the scholarship are required to do additional hours of service on top of the intensive work load already called for by the accelerated program.

Many of them go to middle schools and high schools to talk about the college experience within the context of nursing, encouraging students to further their education in the field.

Scholarship recipients also reach out to fellow underrepresented students in the field providing support both academically and socially.

“There is an expectation that they will be leaders and mentors themselves,” Lamontagne said.

The College of Nursing has already begun work on applying for the grant for next year.

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected]