School of Nursing part of Nurses for Wisconsin Initiative

Feb. 18, 2014

Four University of Wisconsin System nursing programs, including the UW-Madison School of Nursing, are offering new fellowship and loan forgiveness programs to encourage nurses to pursue doctoral degrees or postdoctoral training and assume nurse educator positions in Wisconsin.

Nourses for Wisconsin logo

The overall goal is to address the nursing faculty shortage.

The $3.2 million Nurses for Wisconsin initiative-funded through a UW System incentive grant program and led by UW-Eau Claire- comes in response to predictions that Wisconsin could see a shortage of 20,000 nurses by 2035.

A current shortage of nurse educators in Wisconsin greatly limits the number of students who can be accepted into nursing programs in the state, said Linda Young, PhD, RN, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UW-Eau Claire.

"UW System nursing programs have the leadership, academic programs and curriculum necessary to increase the number of graduates from the baccalaureate programs," Young said. "But a shortage of nurse educators prevents us from enrolling more nursing students in our programs. This collaborative initiative to invest in nurse educators is an important first step in meeting the need to enroll more nursing students for Wisconsin."

In 2012-13, 50 to 80 percent of qualified undergraduate students who applied to nursing schools at four UW System institutions were denied admission primarily because there was not enough qualified nursing faculty to teach them.

The initiative will provide fellowships to nurses enrolling in doctoral programs at UW-Madison, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee or UW-Oshkosh. All pre- and postdoctoral fellowships will provide opportunities for mentorship in the nurse educator role.

The predoctoral fellowships will support students pursuing either Ph.D. or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. Predoctoral nursing fellows will receive tuition, fees, and stipends in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach at a UW System nursing school.

Postdoctoral fellowships to advance nursing research and evidence-based practice also will be supported. The postdoctoral nursing fellows will receive a one- to two-year salaried fellowship, with benefits, as part of a three-year teaching commitment in a UW System nursing program.

In addition, the four project schools are offering loan forgiveness as an incentive to attract new nursing faculty with a Ph.D. or DNP degree. This program will repay up to $50,000 of the new hire's student loans in exchange for a three-year teaching commitment.

According to the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, the current average age of Wisconsin nursing faculty members is 58 years, and almost six out of 10 faculty plan to leave the workforce within 10 years. This points to the need not only to increase nursing faculty numbers beyond current levels, but also to offset those retirements.

For more information, visit the Nurses for Wisconsin website.