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Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare and New York University Partner on Scholarship for Nurses focused on Mental Health

NEW YORK, September 19, 2014 – The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare (Jonas Center) today announced the Barbara Jonas Psychiatric-Mental Health Scholars Program, a first-of-its-kind initiative that will support 20 PhD and DNP candidates at New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) through 2018. The program is named for Jonas Center co-founder Barbara Jonas, a former psychotherapist and lifelong mental health advocate.           

The program builds on the successful Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program and Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program (JVHP), established in 2008 and 2012, respectively. These programs address the shortage of nursing faculty, including those with expertise in veterans’ often life-altering health issues. The Jonas Center currently supports nearly 600 doctoral scholars nationwide, with a goal of 1,000 Jonas Scholars by 2016.

“This new effort is an important step in advancing the Jonas Center’s vision for comprehensive nursing leadership in all aspects of care,” says Darlene Curley, MS, RN, FAAN, executive director of the Jonas Center. “We’re especially excited to launch this with NYUCN, which has enormous expertise in this area, and hope to use this pilot effort to build similar partnerships in other locations in the future.”

A $250,000 grant from the Jonas Center will fund 20 scholars in total, beginning this academic year and continuing through 2018. Three scholars have been selected as the first of the cohort. Their work will focus on such issues as stress reduction, PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric areas in need of better research and interventions.

Mental Health: An Underfunded Need

One in four adults – approximately 61.5 million Americans – experiences mental illness in a given year; 13.6 million of these patients live with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.[1]

"Over many years of private practice I saw firsthand the debilitating effects of poor mental health on all aspects of peoples’ lives – recovery, physical health and relationships,” says Barbara Jonas, a former social worker and psychotherapist. “But donors tend to sweep mental health issues under the rug because they are uncomfortable. We hope that this program will help send a strong signal while also increasing the number of faculty specializing in mental health.”

This is the second mental health-focused gift by the Jonas Center. In 2010, it provided $500,000 to New York-Presbyterian Hospital to fund the first mental health "hospitalist" at the institution to consult with patients admitted for non-psychiatric care, such as those undergoing cancer therapy or major surgery. 

Why Doctoral Nursing Candidates?

In addition to increasing the number of clinical nurses specially prepared to address mental health, this program is one answer to the shortage of qualified faculty able to teach the next generation of nurses.

In the course of a 30-year career, one nurse faculty member could teach approximately 7,500 nurses who, in turn, would touch the lives of a potential 3.6 million patients in their care per year, according to a 2010 impact assessment by the Jonas Center and NYUCN. “The ROI for these Scholars is considerable,” adds Darlene Curley, executive director of the Jonas Center.

Troubling survey data from AACN released in January showed that 2013 marked the lowest enrollment increase (only 2.6 percent) in professional RN programs in the past five years. “Behind this modest increase are more than 53,000 qualified applicants turned away from nursing programs in the last year,” Curley said. She also points out that the problem will be exacerbated by a wave of nurse faculty retirements over the next ten years. 

“The importance of supporting nursing education cannot be overstated, and we are proud to have partnered with the Jonas Center on this and other scholar programs for nearly a decade,” says Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Erline Perkins McGriff professor of Nursing at NYUCN. “In addition to a dearth of faculty, there is a lack of funding for nurses wanting to study at the doctoral level. The Jonas Center’s programs play an important role in helping to grow the quality and quantity of our nation’s professional nurses, and this latest effort furthers this goal.”

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About the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare

In 2006, Barbara and Donald Jonas established the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare (formerly known as the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence), the leading national philanthropic funder dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership and innovation. Its two main programs are the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role, and the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans’ healthcare. These programs currently support nearly 600 doctoral scholars nationwide, with a goal to support 1,000 Scholars by 2016.

About the New York University College of Nursing

NYU College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing education, research, and practice. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs, a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. For more information, visit nursing.nyu.edu.



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