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Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Seeks to Diversify PhD Nurses

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   April 18, 2023

'We are committed to making a PhD accessible and attainable for talented individuals from all backgrounds,' dean says.

A new PhD program at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) is answering the call for a more diversified nursing workforce.

The Pathway to PhD Nursing Scholars, designed to accelerate diversity within PhD-prepared nurses, will be an eight-week intensive program to recruit and prepare students from groups underrepresented in nursing with mentorship, resources, networking, and career guidance.

The pathway program will focus on post-baccalaureate nurses and address structural inequities in PhD education, according to JHSON.

“We are committed to making a PhD accessible and attainable for talented individuals from all backgrounds,” says Sarah Szanton, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the nursing school. “The urgency of the nursing shortage, and the even greater nurse faculty shortage, make this vital opportunity that directly aligns with our mission to develop a diverse pipeline of nurse leaders.”

The program’s design is based on recommendations from the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing and the 2021 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which says nursing over the next decade will demand a larger, more diversified workforce prepared to respond to future public health emergencies and address systemic inequities that have fueled health disparities.

The report identified several priorities to meet the needs of the U.S. population and the nursing profession for the next decade, including promoting diversity, inclusivity, and equity in nursing education and the workforce. Nursing students and faculty not only need to reflect the diversity of the U.S. population but also need to help dismantle structural racism prevalent in education and the workforce, it said.

Nurses selected for the pathway program will learn about the nursing research process, how to apply for a PhD, and how to conduct community-engaged research. They will also learn the principles of health equity and social determinants of health. They also will receive special networking opportunities, research shadowing experiences, and multiple levels of mentorship from faculty, current PhD students, and researchers within and outside the Johns Hopkins network.

“We hope to demystify the process of applying for a PhD and show nurses that they not only have the vision, but also the support, to achieve a PhD,” says a lead faculty member, Jennifer Wenzel, PhD, MS, RN.

The Pathway to PhD Nursing Scholars program will run for five years with 10 scholars selected each year and is funded through a $5 million investment by Johns Hopkins University.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


The new program will accelerate diversity within PhD-prepared nurses.

'Pathway to PhD' aligns with Johns Hopkins’ mission to develop a diverse pipeline of nurse leaders.

Its design is based, in part, on recommendations in the 2021 report from the National Academies.

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