Rutgers School of Nursing Receives Prestigious Future of Nursing Scholars Grant to Prepare PhD Nurses

March 13, 2017

Multi-funder initiative aims to help reach Institute of Medicine goal to build the next generation of PhD prepared nursing leaders

Newark, NJ – The School of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University is one of only 28 schools of nursing nationwide to receive a grant to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program will provide generous financial support, mentoring, and leadership development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. Rutgers, which offers a PhD in Nursing program based in Newark, will select two incoming nursing students to receive this prestigious scholarship.

“The Future of Nursing Scholars program is making an incredible impact in real time. These nurses will complete their PhDs in three years, a much quicker progression than is typically seen in nursing PhD programs,” said Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Future of Nursing Scholars program co-director and the Nightingale professor of nursing and the chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, Johnson & Johnson, Northwell Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare, Rush University Medical Center, Care Institute Group, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year.

Rutgers School of Nursing, the only New Jersey school to be selected, is receiving its grant from RWJF. According to Karen D’Alonzo, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate dean for nursing science, the school will recruit two new students to begin the Future of Nursing Scholars program this summer and start PhD studies in fall 2017. Individuals from ethnic background underrepresented in nursing, such as Hispanic and African American, are particularly encouraged to apply for the Rutgers program.

“We commend RWJF for its commitment to not only increase the number of nurses with research-focused doctoral degrees, but to support them in attaining their PhDs at an accelerated pace,” notes William Holzemer, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and distinguished professor at Rutgers School of Nursing.  “Rutgers is proud to be a partner in this exciting initiative.”

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses. The Future of Nursing Scholars program is intended to help address that recommendation.

“We were pleased to see that enrollment in doctorate of nursing practice programs has increased 160% from 2010 to 2014. However, we want to ensure that we also have PhD-prepared nurse leaders in faculty and research roles. In the same time period, PhD enrollment has only increased by 14.6%. The nurses funded through the Future of Nursing Scholars program will make important contributions to the field and be well-prepared to mentor other nurses,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing.

The 51 nurses supported in this round will join 109 Scholarsacross the three previous cohorts. The program plans to add a fifth cohort which will bring the number of funded Scholars to more than 200 nurses.

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For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Rutgers School of Nursing educates 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students at four campus locations in Newark, New Brunswick, and Blackwood, NJ. An extensive program of continuing education is available for nurses and other health care professionals. In U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Programs 2017, the school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was ranked 17th in the nation and its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program was ranked 19th. For more information, visit, or follow Rutgers School of Nursing on Facebook at

Contact: Lynn McFarlane