UCLA PhD Candidate Among First Recipients of Prestigious Future of Nursing Scholars Program Awards

New Scholarship Program Will Increase the Number of Nurses Holding PhDs

Nhu Tran, RN, BSN, MSN, CCRN, CCRP, is among the 16 nurses who are the first recipients of the Future of Nursing Scholars program awards. This new multi-funder scholarship program, spearheaded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is aimed at increasing the number of nurses holding PhDs. Tran's scholarship is funded by RWJF and was awarded by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Tran intends to focus her PhD research on the relationship between neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants and children with only one working (functioning) lower chamber of the heart and the brain's auto-regulation. Tran currently works as a clinical research registered nurse (RN) at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) in the Cardiothoracic Surgery department. Before working as a research RN, she worked as a staff RN in the Neonatal and Infant Critical Care Unit at CHLA. 

"I am so grateful to receive this scholarship and other support, which will allow me to pursue my dream of obtaining my PhD and continuing to perform research," said Tran.

The Future of Nursing Scholars program provides grants to schools of nursing, so that they can provide scholarships to PhD candidates who will commit to completing the program in three years. Tran will receive an award of $75,000, as well as mentoring and leadership development over the course of the PhD program.

"The shortage of nursing faculty makes it critical for nursing schools to offer opportunities for these future leaders to obtain their PhDs, "said Sally Maliski, associate dean for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs at the UCLA School of Nursing. "The Future of Nursing Scholars program provides us the opportunity to accelerate the education of nurse scholars like Nhu Tran."

In addition to RWJF, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, United Health Foundation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Rhode Island Foundation are supporting the Future of Nursing Scholars grants to schools of nursing this year.

In its landmark nursing report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates; doing so will support more nurse leaders, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses.

Fewer than 30,000 (or 1%) of the nation's more than 3 million nurses have doctoral degrees in nursing or a related field. While enrollment in doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs has risen dramatically over the past few years, enrollment in PhD programs has been relatively flat. In addition, 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.

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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 Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.


Gretchen Wright


Melissa Blair