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FAU Among the First Institutions in the Nation to Receive Funding for Student Scholarships to Address Nursing Shortage

Ten scholarships for students in an accelerated BS program in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing have been awarded based on economic need and underrepresented groups in nursing.

BOCA RATON, FL (November 6, 2008)—The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University is among the first institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program. Ten, $10,000 grants through this competitive program were provided to individuals in underrepresented groups and to those with disadvantaged backgrounds to support their full-time study in nursing. The College hopes to increase the number of students enrolled in FAU’s accelerated baccalaureate nursing program next year. Grant funding also will be used to help leverage new faculty resources and provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by the scholarship recipients.  

This groundbreaking national initiative, launched by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs.

“The rising cost of living in South Florida fueled by the cost of housing, real estate taxes, insurance and wages that have not kept pace with inflation, has resulted in an exodus of nurses in this area,” said Dr. Marlaine Smith, the Helen Karpalenia Persson Eminent Scholar, professor and director of the scholarship program in the College of Nursing. “The New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program will increase the number of students who are able to enroll in our program without having to work. Moreover, we will help to address the nursing shortage by enabling these students to launch their nursing careers sooner through accelerated education.”  

The accelerated baccalaureate program in the College of Nursing commenced in 2004, and is designed as a 12-month intensive full-time program for individuals holding baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines. Students complete 16 academic credits during the summer, 19 during the fall semester and 20 during the spring semester. The plan of study consists of approximately 32 prerequisite credits and 55 credits in upper-division nursing. In addition to classroom, simulation and online learning activities, students engage in approximately 20 nursing practicum hours a week during the summer and 26-30 hours a week during the fall and spring semesters.  

Among the scholarship recipients at FAU include Carolina Zuluaga who grew up in rural Colombia, South America, and Andres Sanchez, one of only three males in the accelerated BS program.

“Growing up as a child in rural conditions in Colombia, I witnessed many social injustices, political upheaval, and lack of access to medical care,” said Zuluaga. “I’ve always known that I wanted to work in the health professions helping others. I am so grateful for this scholarship because it will help me focus on my studies without having to worry about money, and I’ll be able to join the workforce sooner than later.”

Prior to receiving this scholarship, Sanchez was working 20-30 hours a week in addition to his clinical rotations, classes and studying.

“With this scholarship, I can lessen the hours I work or stop completely so that I can concentrate on my studies,” said Sanchez. “Thanks to this scholarship, I’ll be able to start my career in about six months.”

The RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program supports accelerated programs, which offer the most efficient route to licensure as a registered nurse for adults who have already completed a baccalaureate or graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Although enrollment in these programs has steadily increased over the past few years, many potential students are unable to enroll since already having a college degree disqualifies them for receiving most federal financial aid programs for entry-level students.

By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, the new scholarship program also helps to address the nation’s nurse faculty shortage. Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration show that nurses entering the profession at the baccalaureate level are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing, which is the required credential to teach.

Additionally, the program targets the need to recruit students from groups underrepresented in nursing or disadvantaged backgrounds. According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, diversifying the nursing profession is essential to meeting the healthcare needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations.

The College of Nursing has been in existence for more than 27 years at FAU and currently has nearly 1,300 students enrolled in its baccalaureate, masters and doctoral (Ph.D. and DNP) degree programs. The College has the largest graduate nursing enrollment of any university in Florida and offers programs on three campuses in Boca Raton, Port St. Lucie and Davie. The College has a history of recruiting and graduating a diverse student body from underrepresented groups in nursing. Fifty-two percent of all BS students and 37 percent of accelerated BS students are from racial/ethnic groups that are underrepresented in nursing and 7-19 percent are male.


Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serv es more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Barry Kaye College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College,   the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.  

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