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Pictured front row, from left: Austin Nation, Christine L. Latham and Margaret Wilson. Middle row, from left: Fernando E. Serrano, Sarah E. Gomez and Anne M. Judson. Back row, from left: Meredith Tussing and Kathleen M. Kennedy. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Fellowships for Future Nurse Educators

U.S. Department of Education Grant Supports Education Efforts of Future Nurse Leaders

March 9, 2010

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Grant Focuses on Diversity in Nursing

Cal State Fullerton has received a $283,899 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant to improve diversity efforts in the nursing workforce.

The grant is funding a three-year endeavor called the Workforce Improvement Project. Additional funding is expected for the second and third years.

Christine L. Latham, professor of nursing and project director, said she and fellow project team faculty members — Jose M. Cervantes, Mikel Hogan, Karen Ringl, Mary Wickman, and Rebecca Otten — are devising and conducting focus groups and surveys to develop a better understanding of the university’s undergraduate nursing students and their needs.

The project “focuses on the richness of cultural diversity in nursing, and improving psychosocial and academic student nurse success at CSUF,” Latham said. “We plan to increase utilization of our rich campus resources to augment campus academic experiences, and initiate student peer mentoring services.”

She said WIP includes panel discussions of nursing careers and diversity celebrations that include community members and representatives of myriad organizations. In addition, students in the university's B.S.N. program will receive stipends or scholarships as part of the project.

The WIP goals include:

  • Improving student perceptions of acceptance by peers and faculty members;
  • enhancing social support of friends and family;
  • increasing student involvement with campus and community organizations that deal with cultural issues, health and academic support needs;
  • decreasing cultural dissonance and related stress; and
  • improving academic performance and progress, leading to lower attrition and improved graduation rates.

Six Cal State Fullerton graduate students are earning their master's degree in nursing, thanks to fellowships of more than $43,000.

The fellowships are from a $261,312 U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need grant awarded to Cal State Fullerton.

Christine L. Latham, professor of nursing and program director, said another $522,624 in GAANN funding is expected over the next two years.

“It’s nearly $800,000 total over the three years and all the money goes to the students — each receives a $30,000 stipend and another $13,552 to cover their school fees, books, computers, professional organization fees, travel to conferences or professional meetings and research costs,” Latham said.

The inaugural GAANN fellows already are registered nurses. The six, their cities of residence and their undergraduate degrees, are:

  • Sarah E. Gomez, Anaheim, B.S.N. from Biola University, 2004;
  • Anne M. Judson, Fountain Valley, B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, 1993;
  • Kathleen M. Kennedy, Fullerton, B.S.N. from Azusa Pacific, 2006;
  • Austin Nation, Buena Park, B.S.N. from Cal State Fullerton, 2009;
  • Fernando E. Serrano, Fullerton, B.A. in creative writing from UC Riverside, 2004; and
  • Meredith Tussing, Camarillo, B.S.N. from University of St. Catherine, Minn., 2003.

“This is an extremely prestigious honor, especially in today’s economic climate,” said Serrano, who plans to graduate next year. “It means a lot to have this fellowship. We’re all committed to doing the university proud by keeping our grades high and working hard on our thesis research and teaching.”

Because of the fellowship, Serrano said, he is able to concentrate on his studies full time, without also having to have a job.

Gomez concurred: “This is the first time I’ve been able to study and not have to work full time, too.”

The mother of a 21-month-old son and retired Navy nurse said the fellowship "has given me the opportunity to really focus on school.”

Gomez and Tussing will graduate in August. Both plan to work as nurse midwives and teach nursing students about midwifery.

The GAANN program “has opened my eyes to a career in nursing education,” said Nation, who added that once he completes his master’s degree, he plans to apply for a doctoral program and teach nursing at a university.

Latham said the GAANN fellows, who qualify for federal financial aid, must maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average and complete a thesis and a teaching assistantship as part of the program.

Five nursing faculty members — Latham, Rebecca Otten, Stephanie Vaughn, Suzanne Robertson and Margaret Wilson — are the program’s main instructors. They are overseeing the fellows’ research efforts and teaching them how to teach nursing in clinical settings.

GAANN’s main goal, Latham said, is to prepare students to be able to teach nursing students in clinical settings.

“With their master’s degree, they could be hired to work as nurse educators in clinics, hospitals, health care agencies, universities and community colleges,” she said.

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