The state of New Jersey has developed an innovative program to help stem its projected nursing shortage: a $22 million scholarship fund known as the New Jersey Nursing Initiative.
The privately funded initiative provides tuition and living stipend to nurses going back to school for a MA or PhD in nursing. The catch is that recipients must commit to being nursing instructors at one of eight New Jersey schools for at least three years after they graduate.
According to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the nursing shortage problem is not due to a lack of interested nursing students, but rather a lack of nursing faculty. The article quotes Linda Aiken, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the nursing shortage, as saying that approximately 50,000 qualified applicants to nursing programs are turned down.
With a more robust faculty, more nurses could be trained every year.
The state of Pennsylvania responded to the nursing faculty crisis in 2004 with the Independence Blue Cross Nurse Scholars program, which provides grants to graduate students planning to become nursing educators. The program is set to continue through 2011.
So why do nurses need a push to enter academia? One reason is the nursing salary. According to the Inquirer article, nurses in clinical settings can earn $50,000 a year more than those in faculty positions.
If you are interested in going back to school to become a nurse (faculty or otherwise), I recently came across this list of nursing scholarships that you might want to check out.