The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare has awarded UT with a $20,000 grant that will be awarded to two doctoral nursing students, which the University will match dollar for dollar.
America has a shortage of nurse faculty, primary care and researchers, according to a report released in 2010 by the National Institute of Medicine on the current and future state of nursing in America. Anticipating this shortage, the institute has recommended that the number of nurses with a doctorate double by 2020.
Growing population rates, especially in older age ranges, have led to the heightened demand in nursing faculty in America, said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the nursing school. According to Stuifbergen, because of better care for severe health problems, more people are surviving injuries that would have previously resulted in death.
“I think the greatest challenge that [nursing] will face is a shortage of highly-educated nurses that can serve both as nurse educators and nurse leaders in practice,” Stuifbergen said. “As our population is aging, the need for health care is increasing as well.”
The current faculty that is teaching nursing students is retiring, adding to the shortage, said nursing school spokeswoman Kathryn Wiley.
“It’s because a lot of people are retiring at the average age of about 67, that need to be replaced and,” Wiley said.
The Jonas Scholars Program is important because going to school along with supporting a family and working causes problems for many students interested in pursuing graduate-level nursing, said Linda Yoder, a mentor for doctoral student Eduardo Chavez, last year’s scholarship recipient.
“When you have a family, it’s expensive to go to school and pay to maintain a life,” Yoder said. “If people are working, you’re looking at people going part time and [earning a doctorate degree] in six to seven years.”
The Jonas Scholars Program chose Chavez for the scholarship last year because of the research he is doing for his doctoral dissertation on the leadership of bedside nurses, Yoder said.
According to Yoder, in order to solve the many issues that affect the delivery of care, there needs to be more research done by nursing students who choose to further their education. Honors undergraduate nursing students have opportunities to work with current doctoral students who are researching patient and health care industry problems.
“[Undergraduates] ask a lot of good questions,” Yoder said. “Our honors students have a great time working with faculty doing research… A couple of our students wrote papers last year that got published.”
Motivation for many of the doctoral students lies in doing research to improve nursing, Yoder said.
“I think what motivates people to get a Ph.D is they’re passionate about nursing, but they’re also passionate about contributing to the knowledge and science behind nursing, and you do that with research,” Yoder said.