by: Joan Aragone

The UCSF School of Nursing has received a $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, to establish the Betty Irene Moore Accelerated Doctoral Program in Nursing.

With the goal of producing new faculty for Bay Area nursing schools, the program-the first of its kind in the country-is an important advance toward alleviating California's nursing shortage, said Kathleen Dracup, PhD, RN, dean of the UCSF School of Nursing.

In the initial phase of the program, Betty Irene Moore Doctoral Fellowships of $60,000 per year will be granted for three years to each of ten nursing graduate students. Such support will allow students to pursue their studies on a full-time, year-round basis, without needing to secure employment, said Dracup. This plan, she explained, will enable students to complete their nursing doctorates in only three years, rather than the national average of eight years. Moore Fellows will pursue the same program of study and meet the same rigorous requirements as traditional doctoral students, but the support provided by the Foundation will enable completion of the degree on an accelerated time-table.

Candidates will be selected based on their superior academic performance, as well as an expressed desire to pursue careers in nursing education in the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties) for at least three years following graduation from the program. "At a time when the need for new nurses is greater than ever, the current shortage of nursing faculty is one of the most significant factors limiting nursing school enrollments in the Bay Area," explained Dracup. "Through its generosity in establishing the Accelerated Doctoral Program, the Foundation is striking at the very core of the problem. Their grant will launch nursing doctoral students on career paths that parallel students in other health science disciplines, where individuals move quickly from the masters degree to doctoral programs to faculty status."

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in 2002 and 2003 more than 11,000 qualified applicants to US nursing schools were rejected due to a lack of teaching faculty (resulting both from vacant faculty positions and small programs) and other educational resources. A 2002 University of California report found that 345 faculty positions were vacant in California alone, and projected that these vacancies would double over the next five years. This faculty shortage is due in part to the dwindling number of doctorate-prepared nurse educators and to the fact that the careers of many nurse educators are relatively short, said Dracup.

Traditionally, nurses work for a decade or longer in clinical positions before entering a doctoral program. This late entry into academia substantially reduces the number of productive teaching years, she said. In addition, potential nursing doctoral candidates face serious financial concerns, including a substantial loss of income if they choose to move out of the workforce. Thus, PhD nursing students generally work part time-or even full time-to help meet educational and living expenses.

The Moore Accelerated Doctoral Program will address these problems by bringing nurses into doctoral study earlier in their careers and providing for an accelerated three-year timetable for completion of the PhD. Students will receive a high degree of faculty supervision and mentoring in order to expedite completion of all coursework, exams, and dissertation requirements. As an incentive to maintain the demanding three-year schedule, the fellowships will be extended only for the three-year period.

The Betty Irene Moore Accelerated Doctoral Program at the UCSF School of Nursing is the first award to be made under this initiative. The first cohort of Moore Doctoral Fellows will be enrolled for the fall 2004 term. UCSF School of Nursing faculty and staff are now actively recruiting candidates who are completing or have recently graduated from masters programs in nursing. Interested applicants should contact Judy Martin-Holland, UCSF assistant dean for academic services and diversity enhancement, at (415) 476-4801, or

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation launched the Betty Irene Moore Nursing initiative in November 2003, with the goal of improving nursing-related patient outcomes in acute care hospitals. The initiative is focused in Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. Funding strategies include increasing the quantity of registered nurses (RNs), improving clinical skills effectiveness, and promoting best practices for nursing care in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Foundation was established in September 2000 to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation funds outcome-based grants and initiatives to achieve significant and measurable results. Grantmaking supports the Foundation's principal areas of interest: global environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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