Over its almost 50 year history, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has provided
about $500M to nursing initiatives focused on education, practice, policy and leadership
development. While RWJF was most often the sole funder of many of these initiatives,
it has also joined with others to create a larger and more sustained impact on particularly
challenging nursing, health, and health care issues.
The purpose of this article was to describe the challenges and opportunities of a
unique funding collaborative developed to engage new partners, increase the visibility
of doctoral nursing education and increase funding of the RWJF Future of Nursing Scholars
program to develop more PhD prepared nurses and nurse faculty.
Interviews were conducted with several members of the FNS Funders Collaborative as
well as the scholars they supported. The perspectives of three funders, a regional
philanthropy (IBC Foundation) and two health systems (Cedars Sinai and Sharp HealthCare)
are presented here. Together they supported 13 nurses to complete their PhD through
the RWJF Future of Nursing Scholars program.
RWJF contributed $20 M and 13 other funders contributed an additional $3Mto the initiative.
The additional funds supported 42 nurses to earn their PhD degree through the program.
Six of the 13 funders are health systems, four are regional or health related philanthropies,
and others include United Health Care, Johnson & Johnson, and the Care Institute.
There were many lessons learned for RWJF and the other funders. Given the size of
RWJF, some other philanthropies were concerned about how contributions would be represented,
others wanted their funding to go directly to care improvement. Some health systems
were not prepared for their nurses to decrease work time while pursuing further education.
The nurse faculty and nurse PhD shortages have persisted now for over a decade. Although
FNS made a significant contribution by developing over 200 new nurse PhDs (faculty
and leaders), more funding collaborations that engage new and different partners must
be developed so that nursing education does not have to focus on the same problems
in the next decade.