Our nation’s health care system is facing significant challenges. We spend more money per capita on health care than any other country, yet we lag behind in many health indicators and millions of people go without adequate care. It will take a new generation of bold leaders—experienced in both the front lines and the boardrooms of health care, skilled in science, research and innovation, mentored by key health care, business and policy leaders, and networked together across the country—to create real transformational change.
Because of their front-line experience and deep connections to patients and families, nurses are critical to safeguarding the health of the nation and ensuring that health care is safe, accessible, and high quality. In particular, PhD-prepared nurse scientists and researchers are in an optimal position to seek and identify solutions to serious problems that make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Their discoveries have the potential to change our health care system. Each PhD-prepared nurse educator and researcher also has the potential to educate thousands of nurses over the course of his/her career and engage in productive research to find solutions to pressing health care problems.
Currently however, less than 1 percent of the nursing workforce has a PhD in nursing or a related field. To meet the demand for a larger, more diverse cadre of nurse faculty, nurse scientists, and nurse leaders, the number of PhD-prepared nurses needs to grow substantially in diversity as well as number.
The PhD is only one key component in creating transformational nurse leaders. Mentoring, leadership development, and research funding support after graduation, not traditionally found in doctoral programs, are critical to creating nurse leaders who have the capacity to put evidence-based, innovative ideas for systemic change into practice and inspire the next generation of nurses.
Through the Future of Nursing Scholars program, we will create a large and diverse cadre of PhD-prepared nurses who are committed to long-term leadership careers that advance science and discovery, strengthen nursing education, and bring transformational change to nursing and health care. The program will provide scholarships, mentoring, and leadership development activities, as well as postdoctoral research support, to build the capacity of this select group of future nurse leaders.