WSU receives national grant to prepare PhD nurses

SPOKANE, Wash. – One of 32 nationwide grants to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs has gone to the Washington State University College of Nursing.

The college will select two students in May for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program, which will begin in summer. It will provide financial support, mentoring and leadership development to nurses who commit to earning a PhD in three years.

“Our scholars will focus their research on behavioral health, and they will be mentored by Dr. Janet Katz, Dr. John Roll and myself,” said Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, the college PhD program director.

In its landmark 2010 nursing report, the national Institute of Medicine recommended that the country double the number of nurses with doctorates so they can help advance health, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses.

“We are striving to grow the number of nurses with PhDs who will be prepared to assume leadership positions across all levels,” said Susan Hassmiller, co-director of the program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s senior adviser for nursing.

The number of nurses earning PhDs is not the only issue addressed by the program. The average age at which nurses get their PhDs in the United States is 46, or 13 years older than PhD earners in other fields. This program will provide an incentive for nurses to start PhD programs earlier so that they can have long leadership careers.

Learn more about the WSU College of Nursing at Learn more about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at

The Future of Nursing Scholars program is a multi-funder initiative. In addition to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, other support comes from Johnson & Johnson, Inc., Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Northwell Health (formerly North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System), Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Sharp HealthCare, Rush University Medical Center and a Michigan funders collaborative that includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Metro Health Foundation, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, DMC Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.


Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, WSU College of Nursing, 509-324-7477,



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