Grant Will Aid Doctoral Students at UAMS College of Nursing

By Spencer Watson

The funds will help defray the educational costs and living expenses for up to 10 nursing students as they pursue either a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (D.N.P.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in nursing.

“Part of the mission for UAMS is to meet the workforce needs of the state, and that includes a need for doctorally prepared nurses,” said Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., RN, dean of the College of Nursing.

Likely candidates for the scholarships would be nurses pursuing a research degree (Ph.D.), or post–master’s degree nurse practitioners or administrators pursuing a D.N.P. who want to work with students or who have some interest in the realm of academics, such as research within the academic setting or in health systems.

“The goal is to support students with scholarships so that they can go to school full time and reduce their outside employment while obtaining their degree. This will facilitate a quicker entry into the academic nursing workforce,” Cowan said

Many faculty positions at nursing colleges require a doctoral degree, and there is a great need for such faculty. However, those faculty positions often don’t pay as well as some jobs in the clinical realm.

“It’s difficult to reduce your income to pursue doctoral education, knowing that faculty positions often have lower salaries than clinical positions. So we’re looking to support people who are really committed to undertaking an academic role and will be able to make that transition. These scholarships are a way to facilitate and motivate individuals to pursue full-time doctoral education and more quickly enter the academic nursing workforce.”

A doctoral degree is required for leadership roles, such as directing academic programs or becoming the dean or associate dean of a college or school. Many nursing programs require faculty have a doctoral degree or be enrolled in doctoral programs.  It can also be a route to other faculty roles as adjuncts or preceptors.

“The number of people in Ph.D. nursing programs has remained relatively flat for some time, while the number of nurses pursuing D.NP. degrees for advanced practice has risen. However, there is a need for both Ph.D.- and D.N.P.- prepared nurses to serve in academic roles. In Arkansas and nationally, we’ve had a good number of Ph.D.-prepared faculty who stayed longer in academic roles. Many of these are now approaching retirement, so we’ve known there’s going to be this tsunami effect that would occur,” said Cowan. “The need is significant.

“Part of our mission is to mentor people for leadership roles, not only at UAMS but across Arkansas as well. We want to do that through our educational programs, which prepare nursing leaders for the entire state.”