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Doctoral Students Receive Robert Wood Johnson Grant

The University of South Carolina College of Nursing is one of only 31 schools of nursing nationwide to receive the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars grant, a program aimed at increasing the number of nurses who earn a doctoral degree. The grant provides two incoming fall 2018 doctoral students with financial support, mentoring and leadership development to complete an advanced degree in three years. Karen Starr and Beth Schultz are this year’s recipients.

After the college was selected as one of five cohorts, doctoral prospects interested in the program went through an ap-plication process that included personal interviews, a written application, a letter of intent and a declaration of interest area.

Starr will be mentored by Robin Dail, associate dean for faculty affairs and an expert in neonatal thermoregulation. Schultz will be mentored by Cindy Corbett, a nursing smart state research professor with expertise in care transitions for adults with multiple chronic conditions. Starr and Schultz are active members of the nursing community and passionate about the field.


This program gives us the opportunity to expand our impact and influence as nursing scientists in the clinical care environment and provide leadership in the nursing field. It’s important for us to expand the network of global leaders in the field in order to help improve health care.

Karen Starr, Ph.D. Student


Participants in the Future of Nursing Scholars program must enroll full time in a research-focused doctoral program and complete their degree in three years. The program provides $75,000 over the three years and requires participating schools to match $50,000 for a total of $125,000 available over three years. Recipients of the grant must interact with mentors in health care, research, business, education, policy, innovation and other key areas. They can also participate in a leadership network to collaborate on work with other students and national mentors during and after their doctoral education.

“As a scholar, I know I will become a more effective leader and be prepared to strengthen the nursing profession through the promotion and engagement of research,” Schultz says. “This program promotes the science of nursing and nursing research at every level of the profession and develops and fosters leaders within the profession of nursing. There are so many levels of entry into this great profession and I think RWJF continues to infuse nursing with more terminally prepared leaders.”

The Future of Nursing Scholars program aims to build a diverse group of nurses who are dedicated to long-term leadership careers that advance science and discovery, strengthen nursing education and transform nursing and health care.

“I have the opportunity to study and investigate topics that can affect today’s health care and make a difference,” Starr says. “My personal goal in pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing science is to expand exploration for neonatal research that can impact the outcomes for newborns. Over my 30-year career, I have developed a passion for understanding and sharing the ‘why’ of clinical decisions that are data driven. These data can lead to evidence to support best practices in transition, stabi-lization and continuing care provided by caregivers in a variety of settings.”

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is funded by multiple sources. Johnson & Johnson, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in addition to RWJF, support Future of Nursing Scholars grants.

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