In This Issue:

NJNI Announces New Cohort of Scholars
Four Scholars Work Together, Create Model for Portfolio Development
Leader’s Column – NJNI’s National Advisory Committee
Leaders in Nursing Education Add Mentoring to Job Responsibilities
Horizon Foundation to Help Graduate Nursing Students
Did You Know…?

NJNI Announces New Cohort of Scholars

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is proud to announce the members of the second and final cohort of RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars. Each of these nurses will participate in the NJNI Faculty Preparation Program and receive a scholarship covering tuition, a stipend to cover living expenses for the two to four years spent as a full-time student, and a laptop computer.
The 20 new Scholars are:
·         Jamie Boman, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Ruta Brazaitis, William Paterson University
·         Christine Brewer, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Catherine Carlton, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Tammy Cooper, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
·         Diane Cukrow, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Marjory Deslume, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Caitlin Fett, The College of New Jersey
·         Nancy Flood, Monmouth University
·         Marlin Gross, Richard Stockton State College
·         Stephanie Henson, Richard Stockton State College
·         Karen Hoary, Monmouth University
·         Renee Kurz, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
·         Tony Malek, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Alexander Manning, The College of New Jersey
·         Janice McConnon, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Nancy Mills, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
·         Shelby Pitts, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
·         Grace Qarmout, Fairleigh Dickinson University
·         Laura Zakresky, Kean University

Four Scholars Work Together, Create Model for Portfolio Development

In the fall of 2009, four newly-mintedRobert Wood Johnson Foundation New Jersey Nursing Scholars faced a challenging but exciting task: each had to begin creating a teaching portfolio—a document that provides key information on their competencies, service and scholarly work, a curriculum vitae and more. The portfolio serves as a record of each Scholar’s career in academia and is a key component of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative’s Faculty Preparation Program. The four were embarking on a difficult task that would be required of all Scholars in the program later.
“Part of our goal with the Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) is to push the boundaries of traditional nursing education beyond where they’ve been before. We want our Scholars, who are the future of nursing education, to look at challenges in a new light and to work collaboratively as much as possible,” said Diane Billings, Ed.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., the chancellor’s professor emerita at Indiana University’s School of Nursing in Indianapolis and director of the Faculty Preparation Program’s CLC. “Their portfolio development is a testament to that collaboration and it will serve as an invaluable resource for many others,” she added.
“Harder than Hard”
Patricia R. Reineke, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at the Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), coordinates the Scholars work on portfolios. She runs a weekly seminar for the Scholars that alternates between FDU and Monmouth University. Reineke says that, initially the Scholars had difficulty with the portfolio project because they began with a blank template and only a vague notion of the educator competencies that they will master during their studies.
“It was harder than hard,” agrees Michelle Skiber, R.N., B.S.N., of Monmouth University. She and her three colleagues—Latoya Rawlins, R.N., B.S.N., also of Monmouth, and Andrew Fruhschien, R.N., B.S.N. and Erin Cleary, R.N., B.S.N. of FDU—are all part of the schools’ masters collaborative and all struggled with the portfolio development task early on. In the fall semester, as the Scholars were just beginning their studies, they told Reineke that they did not have much information to include in their portfolios.
So Reineke edited the template portfolio document to allow for a more comprehensive view of each of the education competencies required by the New Jersey Nursing Initiative and the National League for Nursing. She brainstormed with the Scholars on how their varied experiences in the Faculty Preparation Program were helping them meet their education competencies.
The “Aha Moment”
A critical part of the Scholar experience is the mentoring provided by experienced nurse faculty. Reineke asked each Scholar to begin a mentoring and reflection log that would include the date, the activity and a reflection of their thoughts on what they did and what they would do going forward. She instructed Scholars to keep track of all of their activities: mentoring experiences, classes, faculty meetings, and more.
“[The log] became the evidence of what they were doing. It enabled them to see if the experience they put in is one they’d like to take to another level,” said Reineke.
Reineke quickly saw that the reflective logs became the “aha moment” in the portfolio development process. “It showed them that they had the educational competencies there, and we listed them out to clearly demonstrate what they’d accomplished. It nicely illustrated for them everything they’d done in their first year. They were very proud,” she said.
Working Together
The Scholars regularly discussed their portfolios with one another and brainstormed ways to build their experiences. “We all worked together and used each other’s ideas; the portfolio template was a collaborative effort,” FDU’s Cleary said.
“There were plenty of things that we hadn’t thought were that important to include, but we quickly saw that they were, because they demonstrated our experiences,” added Fruhschien. Scholars might not have logged meetings with professors on curriculum development, even though they contributed to the process, he explained. By including that in the log, they were able to demonstrate their experience in that area.
Rawlins added that it was important to start early on the portfolio development, because waiting until later in the year could make the process more overwhelming than it already was. She said she and her colleagues are looking forward to helping the next cohort of Scholars with their portfolios.
“The greatest thing about the Faculty Preparation Program has been the outstanding amount of support we’ve received,” added Rawlins. “To have so many people supporting your transition from bedside nurse to educator is really wonderful. It makes it so much easier and I am very grateful to the program. This portfolio is something we will use when we go out to look for work as nurse faculty.”

Leader’s Column – NJNI’s National Advisory Committee

By MaryAnn Christopher, R.N., M.S.N., F.A.A.N., NJNI National Advisory Committee Chair
Guiding the work of New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is the National Advisory Council (NAC) made up of leaders from as far north as North Dakota, to the west (Texas), south to Mississippi, as well as local opinion leaders from New York and New Jersey.  They represent former elected officials, lobbyists, state government decision makers, educators, and of course nurses.  Together, since our formation, the NJNI NAC has been thoroughly engaged and excited by the work of the program, whether it was interacting with the Faculty Prep Scholars or strategizing with the staff of the program office as to how we can impact policy in the long run.
This group of volunteer leaders has gone beyond the roles of typical board members, seeking to get directly involved in the mentoring and development of the scholars—our future nurse faculty.   They have broken up into subgroups to identify opportunities to ensure that the scholars are exposed to the policy process, understand board structures all with the goal of helping the scholars begin to develop their social networks and recognize the role and responsibility they have beyond the classroom.  In some cases this means connecting them with leadership programs that exist within nurse education, such as the great work of Sigma Theta Tau. In other cases, it means making them aware of the state policy making process here in New Jersey.
As colleagues, NAC members have helped us understand the impact of the economy on NJ’s budget, as well as, assisted in tracking the progress of health reform and its impact on nursing.
We are living in a time when resources are stretched and the role of nursing and nurse education is in flux.  Having a board that can guide the program office through these turbulent times will be critical to ensuring NJNI succeeds.

Leaders in Nursing Education Add Mentoring to Job Responsibilities

Two senior nurse faculty in New Jersey are helping young nurses make the often challenging transition from clinical practice to the classroom.
Throughout their careers, David Anthony (Tony) Forrester, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.E.F., a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing in Newark, and Gloria Essoka, Ph.D., R.N., C.P.N.P. a visiting professor of nursing at Seton Hall University in South Orange, have made personal commitments to mentor new nurse faculty members.
In doing so, both are helping schools of nursing retain faculty—a key goal of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), which aims to ensure that New Jersey has the well prepared, diverse nurse faculty it needs to meet the demand for health and health care. NJNI is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
Mentoring the Next Generation
For Forrester, mentoring new nurse educators is a high-priority endeavor. In addition to his primary role as a nursing professor, he also serves as professor in residence/ interdisciplinary health research consultant at Morristown Memorial Hospital. In this capacity, he helps nurses complete original scientific research and evidence-based practice projects and launch successful scholarly careers.
“It’s very gratifying,” he says, noting that several of his nursing protégées have papers that have been published or accepted for publication in academic nursing journals. “A great part of my job is to help them succeed and then stand aside and cheer them on by saying, ‘Ta Da!’”

Essoka has taken a more informal approach to mentoring. Over the course of her career, she has taken it upon herself to help 15 to 20 young nurse faculty members navigate the often turbulent waters of academic nursing.
During the year, she identifies a novice educator who is struggling with the transition to academia and initiates a series of informal conversations about everything from teaching to research to personal life. She advises her mentees about research projects, edits papers before publication, and helps them manage the classroom.
“I feel that if one is able to help others along the way, then he or she should just do it,” she says. “I like to see people who have potential be able to make some progress.”
Essoka has mentored many neophyte faculty, but one woman—a single mother whom she describes as “rough around the edges”—stands out. Essoka shepherded this struggling mom through her early career and into her current role as a tenured professor in New York.
Success as Educators, Researchers and Community Leaders
Forrester and Essoka have had long, successful careers as professors, researchers and leaders in their communities.
A nurse educator for more than three decades, Forrester earned widespread acclaim in the 1980s and 90s when he published the first true clinical HIV/AIDS research in nursing literature. He has since published extensively in areas including critical care family needs, minority men’s and women’s health, and physical restraints management. He also serves as a peer reviewer for a number of professional and scholarly nursing journals.
He is currently conducting funded research into the effects of gum-chewing on patients who have undergone abdominal surgery. The results are not yet in, but he hypothesizes that chewing gum on a prescribed schedule will help prevent surgery-related complications.
Forrester has also taught a range of courses to nursing students at all points on the education spectrum. He is currently devoting most of his teaching time to students earning their doctoral degrees in urban health systems (Ph.D.) and nursing practice (D.N.P.). He teaches courses in health care policy and law, leadership development for new faculty, and a graduate-level cognate course in nursing education.
Whatever the course, he says he always keeps his role as a mentor in mind. “When I teach students, I teach them as a faculty mentor,” he says. “I am always trying to role-model expert faculty leadership behaviors.”
For her part, Essoka adds mentoring to her long list of responsibilities as a department chair. She also provides leadership in the two departments that she chairs, develops schedules, recommends faculty for appointments, actively participates on various committees, and advises students.
Essoka says she has always considered helping others part of her job, even though it hasn’t always been part of the job description. At one point in her long career, she worked at a day care center and conducted physical examinations for children, advised parents about pediatric health and held classes on issues such as immunizations, injuries and health maintenance.
She did similar work at a residential camp for inner-city children, whom she says she could relate to after growing up poor herself. “Because I grew up in that same kind of environment, I have a more realistic perception of what it is that people can do, what they can afford, and what’s realistic,” she says. “And I am able to speak in lay language.”
Essoka spent two years working as a nurse educator in Malawi, an experience she considers to have been the greatest cultural adventure of her life. Her major contribution was helping faculty transform the curriculum into a baccalaureate program.
She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Minority Nurse Leadership Institute, housed at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where she has served as a mentor.
One high point of her scholarly career came when she and a colleague studied the effects of children’s perceptions of their own health. They found that children who were disabled perceived themselves as healthy as long as they were able to take care of themselves. That perception helped motivate these children to engage in more independent self-care and boosted their self-esteem.
Essoka plans to continue her mentoring and volunteer work. After she retires in a few years, she plans to volunteer at a homeless shelter for women and children and at a literacy center for the blind, where she can use her skills as a nurse practitioner and educator.
She also plans to travel to her husband’s native Cameroon to teach nursing courses to university students and advise nursing faculty on curriculum development. “I cannot imagine having had a richer, more stimulating and satisfying career than I did as a nurse educator,” she says. Through my work, I have cared for the sick, educated countless students, and mentored faculty for the future.”

Horizon Foundation to Help Graduate Nursing Students

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) recently named the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey as one of nine recipients of new grants, as part of Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN). This unique national initiative is helping to find innovative ways to create an adequate nursing workforce appropriate in size and equipped with the specific skills necessary to meet the changing demands of the 21st century patient population.
The New Jersey Nursing Initiative will work with the Horizon Foundation to launch an online program, Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey. NJNI and nine New Jersey nursing programs[1] will launch the on-line Academic Resource center to assist nurses in their first year of graduate study to succeed in their pursuit of a master’s degree. Nurses who attain a master’s degree become eligible to continue their careers and become nurse educators.
The on-line Center includes a virtual platform for assessments and advanced skills work including ESL students, and faculty training and evaluation of students’ progress. The program will be piloted with 1,000 first-year master’s students for two years in nine nursing programs in the state.
The PIN program provides support to local and regional philanthropies to act as catalysts in their own communities and to develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. Additional local funders who partnered with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey include the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson, The Edward W. and Stella C. Van Houten Memorial Fund and the Verizon Foundation.

Did You Know…?

There is a 7 percent vacancy rate for nurse faculty in New Jersey.  With the economic crisis and state budget shortfalls continuing, institutions may choose to eliminate vacant positions, which would exacerbate the faculty shortage. Cuts in nurse faculty positions would result in fewer students being accepted into nursing schools, including graduate programs that position them to educate the next generation of nurse faculty.
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