Carolyn Etland, a doctoral candidate in the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science’s Ph.D. program, almost didn’t apply. The palliative care nurse knew she wanted to teach, but the cost of the University of San Diego’s program was daunting. She was poised to start online doctoral coursework at the University of Utah, but she was drawn back by the quality of USD’s curriculum. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it when I started,” she says. “I took it on faith.”
That trust has been reinforced with a tuition loan from the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, managed by the school. In 2007, for the third consecutive year, Ph.D. program Chair Patricia Roth secured more than $200,000 of program funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; she’s garnered more than $560,000 in the last four years. If Etland, who graduates next year, teaches full time in a school of nursing or in a clinical track, up to 85 percent of the principal and interest of her loans may be forgiven.
Dean Sally Hardin and Roth are committed to securing funding for their students to develop nurses who will be leaders in their field. The need is urgent: California faces a current shortage of 10,000 nurses; nationally the shortage of trained nurses will reach 1 million by 2020. Roth and Hardin have built the school’s M.S.N. and doctoral programs to prepare nurses for careers as researchers, clinical teachers and senior executives, and to become the faculty who will train the next generation. Hardin encourages all M.S.N. candidates — the majority of the school’s 300 students — to expand their goals and aim for a doctorate.
One statistic speaks to the school’s success: of San Diego County’s nine schools of nursing, seven are led now or have been led by USD graduates. The school is ranked in the top 10 percent of nursing schools, and its 150 doctoral graduates teach and lead in 90 institutions.
The efforts of Roth and Dean Hardin have made a substantial impact on the current class. Etland says, “I can’t describe to you the gratitude I feel to the school. Everyone in my program has funding, which is unheard of.”