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Graduates of NJ Nursing Initiative Will Help Replenish Teaching Ranks

First 10 to complete doctoral program could fill one-third of faculty vacancies at state’s colleges.

Five members of the first graduating class of doctoral NJ Nursing Scholars.
Credit: New Jersey Nursing Initiative
Five members of the first graduating class of doctoral NJ Nursing Scholars.

New Jersey’s nursing school faculties will soon be replenished with 10 newly minted professors, thanks to a program that is aiming to strengthen nursing education.

The doctoral graduates were sponsored by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a multiyear $30 million project to address a looming shortage in the number of nursing professors in the state.

The graduates could fill one-third of the roughly 30 vacant positions at the state’s nursing schools, according to program officials. They include graduates of both of the state’s nursing doctoral programs, at Seton Hall and Rutgers universities.

Connie Kartoz, a West Windsor resident, said a scholarship funded by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative allowed her to attend school full-time and complete the degree in four years. She received her doctoral degree from Seton Hall on Saturday.

“Without a doctoral equivalent or degree behind me, I was really destined for a part-time adjunct career and that really wasn’t what I wanted to do,” said Kartoz, who had worked as an advance practice nurse for 20 years before pursuing the degree.

Kartoz will be training future nurses full-time in the fall, when she will join The College of New Jersey in a nursing faculty position.

Kartoz added that increasing the number of nursing professors in the state will not only allow more residents to pursue nursing careers, it will also increase the amount of academic research that can support nursing.

Kartoz and the other new graduates conducted research as part of their studies. She studied whether seniors are more likely to adhere to an appropriate schedule for taking medication if they have affectionate relationships with their adult children.

She found that older women are more likely to adhere to the schedule, perhaps because they felt valued by their adult children, while she was not able to establish a similar effect on older men.

“We need a good number of people to be able to expand our science,” Kartoz said of the importance of building nursing faculty research.

Connie Kartoz, new graduate of the state’s nursing doctoral programs at Seton Hall.
Connie Kartoz, new graduate of the state’s nursing doctoral programs at Seton Hall.

The initiative, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was launched after a 2007 study estimated that the state would have 75 nursing faculty vacancies within five years. Faculty members choosing to delay retirement – partly due to the recession – delayed many of those vacancies, according to initiative program director Susan Bakewell-Sachs.

Bakewell-Sachs noted that the first group of doctoral graduates was able to handle an ambitious coursework and research schedule. The second group is scheduled to graduate in 2015, and the initiative is exploring ways to develop nursing faculty beyond that year.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior program officer Maryjoan D. Ladden, a registered nurse and nursing doctoral-degree holder herself, said the graduating class marked a significant milestone for the state.

“We believe that nurses are very important direct care providers to improve health and healthcare in the U.S.,” Ladden said. A 2011 Institute of Medicine report on the future of nursing found that the need for nursing doctorate degree holders would soon double, she noted.

Maria Torchia LoGrippo, a new Seton Hall doctoral graduate, completed research that found that low-income women who receive prenatal maternal health services from certified nurse midwives had higher levels of trust in the care they received and lower levels of stress. LoGrippo said she may do further research on whether providing continuing healthcare from a nurse midwife after women give birth can lead to positive health outcomes.

LoGrippo has attributed her ability to pursue the degree to the initiative. She has applied for a postdoctoral research opportunity with Rutgers.

Bakewell-Sachs said the initiative will continue to support the doctoral graduates’ professional development and encourage collaboration among program graduates.

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