USD Receives Second Prestigious Future of Nursing Scholars Grant to Prepare PhD Nurses

Multi-funder initiative aims to help reach Institute of Medicine goal to build the next generation of PhD prepared nursing leaders.


Multi-funder initiative aims to help reach Institute of Medicine goal to build the next generation of PhD prepared nursing leaders.

The University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing: Health Science and Beyster Institute for Nursing Research is one of only 32 schools of nursing nationwide to receive a 2016 grant to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program will provide financial support, mentoring, and leadership development to nurses who commit to earn their PhDs in three years. The University of San Diego School of Nursing selects one nursing student to receive this prestigious scholarship.  Dr. Patricia Roth, Director of the PhD Program in Nursing, notes that the selection process is very competitive and seeks to identify candidates who have demonstrated leadership qualities and potential to develop research careers. 

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to RWJF, Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare, Rush University Medical Center, and a Michigan funders collaborative* also support the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year.

The University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science: Beyster Institute for Nursing Research is partnering with Sharp HealthCare in the Future of Nursing Scholars program for 2016-2017.  Daniel L. Gross, DNSc, RN, executive vice president for Sharp HealthCare, was instrumental in creating this partnership.  Sharp HealthCare is a leader in promoting masters and doctoral education for nurses within the organization. 

“We are pleased to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and with the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science to further the goal of preparing PhD nurses who can who are committed to leadership careers and advancing science and research to transform health care,”  said Laurie Ecoff, PhD, RN, the Director of Research Education and Professional Practice and Chairperson of the Center for Nursing Excellence at Sharp HealthCare.      

“We are so proud to be selected for the second time for a RWJF PhD Nurse Scholar in collaboration with Sharp HealthCare,” said USD School of Nursing Dean Sally Brosz Hardin.  The scholar selected for this partnership is an employee of Sharp HealthCare, met rigorous selection criteria, and has been accepted for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy Program at USD.  Lindsey Ryan, RN, MSN is the Robert Wood Johnson Scholar for 2016-2017. She began the Future of Nursing Scholars program this summer at a special conference hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and enrolled in PhD courses this fall.

Dean Hardin notes our current RWJF PhD Nurse Scholar, Ms. Millicent De Jesus, who is funded through our collaboration with Cedars Sinai Medical Center, is doing excellent work in our PhD program.  Millie’s dissertation is entitled Technology versus Touch: Targeting Heart Failure Self-Care in Older Adults. She is conducting secondary data analysis of the BEAT-HF data, a multi-site randomized clinical trial (RCT) conducted in six academic teaching hospitals located in California. Her dissertation chairperson is Cynthia Connelly, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Director of Research.

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses. The Future of Nursing Scholars program is intended to help address that recommendation.

“Since the release of the IOM report, enrollment in doctorate of nursing practice programs has increased by an incredible 160% from 2010 to 2014,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing.  “However, the increase of PhD enrollment has only been 14.6%. At RWJF, we are striving to grow the number of nurses with PhDs who will be prepared to assume leadership positions across all levels.” 

The number of nurses enrolled in PhD programs is not the only issue addressed by this program.  The average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the United States 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.  

“The Future of Nursing Scholars represent a group of students who are already making considerable contributions to the field,” said Julie Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Future of Nursing Scholars program co-director. “These nurses are publishing their research and meeting with national leaders, while working at an advanced pace so that they can complete their PhD education in only three years.”  Fairman is also the Nightingale professor of nursing and the chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

* Michigan funders collaborative includes: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Metro Health Foundation, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, DMC Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.



For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


For more information, contact:

Dr. Patricia Roth

USD School of Nursing

(619) 260-4572

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.