By Sean Olson, University Relations

Dr. Eileen KohlenbergDr. Eileen Kohlenberg said the grant will help launch a quality PhD program at the School of Nursing.

UNCG’s nursing doctoral program will get off to a nice start, an $800,000-plus start.

A three-year grant of $810,000 will fund diversity efforts in the School of Nursing Ph. D. program, health care for under-served areas and populations and programs to decrease health disparities. The grant is from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant funds recruitment of 10 students for the nursing program, a goal that officials in the school of nursing have already surpassed. The first cohort of 12 students will begin classes this semester. The funds emphasize service to “under-served” areas, areas that traditionally have less-than-adequate health care such as poor or rural communities, and support the recruitment of students from these areas.

The grant also supports a curriculum that emphasizes special populations – women, children, older adults and minorities. Several courses in the doctoral program focus on health care disparities: the fact that these special populations tend to have inadequate care.

Finally, the grant will also support diversity among students and faculty. Of the 12 students entering the nursing doctoral program this year, three (25 percent) are ethnic minorities. Of the instructors, two are minorities. The grant will provide for continued recruiting of minority students and faculty and will also support a culturally sensitive curriculum.

Specifically, the grant will fund salaries for faculty, recruitment, consultants, equipment and supplies for the new program.

“This HRSA grant will help us establish a quality doctoral program with the resources that we need,” said Dr. Eileen Kohlenberg, the associate dean with UNCG School of Nursing who spearheaded the grant project. “It will help us establish a curriculum that focuses on health promotion, decreases health disparities and promotes the recruitment of minorities in the program.”

The doctorate in nursing was approved by the UNC System Board of Governors last fall, and addresses what Kohlenberg and other experts say is a growing problem in nursing – a shortage of nurses with doctorates to fill positions as clinical researchers, nurse administrators and college and university faculty. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there were 614 faculty vacancies at 300 colleges and universities across the country in 2003. And the need isn’t just a national one, according to Kohlenberg.

“Certainly in North Carolina we have a need for nurse administrators, educators and clinical researchers who are doctorally prepared,” Kohlenberg said.