Samuel Merritt University Awarded Scholarships for Accelerated Nursing Students

Samuel Merritt University

Media Relations Contact:
Elizabeth Valente 510.725.7980
September 2, 2009

Samuel Merritt University Awarded Scholarships for Accelerated Nursing Students

Scholarships funded through Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

New Careers in Nursing Program

[OAKLAND, Calif., September 2, 2009]  Samuel Merritt University (SMU) School of Nursing (SoN) is pleased to announce that it has received funding to award ten scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program.  Grants provided through this competitive program will be used for scholarships to maximize diversity and increase the quantity of students enrolled in Samuel Merritt University’s Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.  Thissignificant national initiative, launched by RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), aims to help alleviate the nation’s nursing shortage by dramatically expanding the pipeline of students in accelerated nursing programs.

"The availability of $10,000 RWJF scholarships will allow SMU to recruit applicants from diverse populations with interested students who might not otherwise consider the University as an affordable option for their nursing education," said Audrey Berman, PhD, RN, Dean and Professor of Nursing.  "SMU has been educating students for 100 years to become highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals who positively transform the experience of care in diverse communities." 

Through the RWJF New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, tenscholarships in the amount of $10,000 each will be distributed to entry-level nursing students in the accelerated program during the 2009 – 2010 academic year.   Award preference at SMU is given to Hispanic and male students.  The School will provide mentoring and leadership development resources to ensure successful program completion by scholarship recipients.

"New Careers in Nursing aims to safeguard the health of the nation by helping to ease the nurse and nurse faculty shortage. Nurses are critical to delivering health care that is effective, patient-centered, timely efficient and equitable," said RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.  "This important initiative will also advance the Foundation’s strategic goal of promoting a health professional workforce that reflects the diversity of the American public."

According to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, diversifying the nursing profession is essential to meeting the healthcare needs of the nation and reducing health disparities that exist among many underserved populations.  Data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration also show that nurses entering the profession at the baccalaureate level are four times more likely than other nurses to pursue a graduate degree in nursing, which is the required credential to teach. Consequently, bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels will help to address the nation’s nurse faculty shortage.

The RWJF scholarships will be given to students from the cohorts in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and San Mateo campuses.  Financial need is not a criterion for loan approval but students must complete a 2009-2010 FAFSA.   Eligible students starting spring 2010 must fill out the 2009-2010 and the 2010-2011 FAFSA.   Each award will be distributed in their first semester of the program in one lump sum and be applied towards the student’s account.  Scholarship recipients will have an assigned faculty member or mentor throughout the ABSN program.  The student must also participate in focus groups and activities that involve mentorship and leadership.   The scholarship application will be posted on the SMU website ( on the Financial Aid and Admissions web pages.   The Admission Department will send applicants notification of the scholarship opportunity.

The funds available through the RWJF scholarships will enhance access to quality nursing education for underrepresented minorities and assist in meeting the federal mandates of the Nursing Education and Practice Improvement Act of 1998.  It will help increase the diversity of the basic nursing workforce, to provide culturally sensitive healthcare, and to increase the number of BSN nurses.  The scholarships will also assist in targeting recruitment and enrollment of male and Hispanic students.  

AACN serves as the National Program Office for this RWJF initiative and oversees the grant application submission and review processes. For more information about this program, see and

Samuel Merritt University, located on 'Pill Hill' in Oakland, California, is celebrating 100 years of educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities. Nearly 1,300 students are enrolled at SMU, with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo. The University offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in physical therapy and podiatric medicine. For more information visit

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