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Widener School of Nursing faculty receive funding to study impact of New Careers in Nursing Program

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recently announced that three Widener University School of Nursing faculty have been selected to receive funding to assess the impact of the New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Scholarship Program. The Widener faculty are among a small group of 18 total nurse researchers from four schools of nursing to be awarded funding for this NCIN assessment project.

NCIN was launched in 2008 to address the national nursing shortage, develop a demographically representative nursing workforce and fuel the pipeline of nurse faculty and leaders. Over its eight years of operation, the NCIN program amassed a large data set related to accelerated nursing programs and students underrepresented in the profession, which will be used by the Widener research team in addition to teams from Augusta University, Fairfield University and Washington State University to advance understanding of students in accelerated nursing programs and the challenges they face.

"The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is pleased to support this important research effort, which promises to enhance our understanding of how to generate the best student outcomes from accelerated learning in nursing," said David Krol, MD, MPH, FAAP, senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Findings from these studies will help guide nursing schools interested in launching high quality, sustainable programs while enhancing the learning experience of those transitioning into nursing from other fields."

In early September, NCIN's Program Office released a call for research application proposals to utilize its data set collected over the last eight years. The response was overwhelming with more than 40 competitive submissions received. The Widener University team led by Associate Professor Darrell Spurlock Jr., PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, and including Associate Professor Normajean Colby, PhD, RN, and PhD Program Director Barbara Patterson, PhD, RN, ANEF, have received a $3,000 grant to support their project. They will analyze the profile and characteristics of male students in accelerated nursing programs and consider relationships between factors such as students' social and demographic characteristics and the development of leadership and professional nursing role competencies.

“As nursing programs strive to increase the diversity of students in their programs while simultaneously preparing the nurse leaders of tomorrow, nursing faculty need solid evidence to guide their efforts,” said Spurlock. “Our study, and the other investigations funded by this award, will significantly contribute to our knowledge about accelerated nursing education programs.”

About Widener University

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,  

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health, enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit

About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 8000 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. For information, visit