Hillman grant will fund accelerated track in School of Nursing

The need for nurses is increasing in North Carolina, and UNC’s School of Nursing hopes to meet demand through a new program.

The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation recently awarded a $3 million grant over five years to the School of Nursing to create the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation.

The program will accept six nursing students each application period. The students will then receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in about two years and a doctorate in three years.

“One of the biggest problems we are facing is a shortage of nursing faculty,” said Kristen Swanson, dean of the school.

“With the preparation of more nurses with their Ph.D.s, we create the pipeline to become teachers of other nurses as well as scientists,” she said.

Starting this year, students applying to the normal or accelerated bachelors programs can also apply to the Hillman program, Swanson said.

Merle Mishel, a professor in the School of Nursing, and Carol Durham, a clinical professor, are directing the program.

As planned, the scholars will have seminars with the project directors, be matched with a research mentor in their area of study, speak to professionals in the field and complete a literature review during the summer, Durham said.

But Mishel said the two are still deciding the program’s specifics and are meeting with other schools that have similar programs.

Scholars will also have an honors project that they will continue working on through their doctoral studies, Durham said.

“We have built in quality-enhancing opportunities within the condensed time frame,” she said.

“This project provides depth and breadth of perspectives to assist the students in their pursuit to improve health care in the nation.
Durham said the $3 million grant will fund students’ research, lab fees, equipment and travel expenses to conferences to present research.

Beverly Foster, a clinical associate professor in the school, said she endorses the program for its benefits to students.

“Students will complete their undergraduate and Ph.D. program with excellent financial support and mentoring,” she said. “It will bring excellent funding to the participants to offset the cost of their education.”

David Reed, a student in the school, said he likes the Hillman program because it encourages more students to get a Ph.D.

“It will satisfy the need for more nurses in society.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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