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MUSC College of Nursing - DNP and PhD Online

College Receives Grant to Prepare PhD Nurses

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Nursing is one of only 14 schools of nursing nationwide to be among the first to receive a grant from a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program to increase the number of nurses holding a PhD degree. As an inaugural grantee of the Future of Nursing Scholars program, the MUSC College of Nursing will select one student to receive financial support, mentoring, and leadership development over the three years of his/her PhD program.
The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, United Health Foundation, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Rhode Island Foundation are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year. The Future of Nursing Scholars program plans to support up to 100 PhD nursing candidates over its first two years.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding. This support for our PhD students clearly reflects on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s commitment to a well educated nursing workforce,” said Gail Stuart, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the MUSC College of Nursing.
Desiree R. Bertrand, MSN, RN, has been selected to receive this grant. Bertrand, a resident of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, will begin her PhD studies online this fall. She is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served as a commissioned officer and a registered nurse for four years. After completing her military commitment, Bertrand worked as a travel nurse for several years. In 2003, she joined the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) as an assistant professor of nursing. Today, she is a research coordinator and the community engagement/outreach core director at the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center housed in the UVI School of Nursing.
In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will support more nurse leaders, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses.
Fewer than 30,000 (or 1 percent) of the nation’s more than 3 million nurses have doctoral degrees in nursing or a related field.  While enrollment in doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs has risen dramatically over the past few years, enrollment in PhD programs has been flat. In addition, the average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the U.S. is 46 - 13 years older than PhD earners in other fields. This program will provide an incentive for nurses to start PhD programs earlier, so that they can have long leadership careers after earning their PhDs.
“This is a crucial and ambitious endeavor,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing. “It’s one that everyone in our country should be engaged in and that’s why the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is inviting other funders to participate in this effort. We believe that working together, we can ensure that we are able to educate the PhD-prepared nurse leaders we need to shape the future of health care education, research and policy.”