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Four N.J. Nursing Scholars Complete Advanced Degree Programs
N.J. Nursing Initiative Boosts Number of Nurses
Prepared to Fill Faculty Positions in the Garden State
Princeton, N.J.—With the support of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), four more highly educated nurses are prepared to assume faculty roles and help meet the educational needs of New Jersey’s nursing workforce in a rapidly evolving health care landscape.  
Three of NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program participants, known as New Jersey Nursing Scholars, recently completed their doctorates at the Rutgers School of Nursing:
  • Shanda Johnson, PhD, MS, RN, APN-C, FNP, of Scotch Plains;
  • Aleesa M. Mobley, PhD, RN, APN-C, of Williamstown; and
  • Catherine Jirak Monetti, PhD, MA, RN, of Mountain Lakes.
One scholar earned her master’s degree at the Rutgers School of Nursing:
  • Karon Branch, MSN, RN, FNP, of Willingboro.
Additionally, Jenee Skinner-Hamler, DNP, RN, FNP, of Mays Landing, who had completed her master’s degree at the Rutgers School of Nursing in 2011 as a New Jersey Nursing Scholar, received alumni incentive funding from NJNI and completed her doctor of nursing practice degree at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched NJNI in 2009, and it has now supported 51 New Jersey Nursing Scholars whose master’s or doctoral degrees qualify them for nurse faculty positions. NJNI’s final cohort of scholars—10 PhD students—continue in their programs. 
“The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are a vital part of NJNI’s legacy, and a reflection of its future,” said NJNI Program Co-Director Susan W. Salmond, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN. “We’re proud to help fuel the pipeline of nurse faculty needed to educate the next generation of nurses.”
“NJNI’s initial focus on the state’s nurse faculty shortage has helped us better understand where to go next,” added NJNI Program Co-Director Aline M. Holmes, DNP, MSN, RN. “Now we’re encouraging the state’s nursing programs to teach the relevant skills that will help students succeed in meeting emerging health care needs.”
“Without the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, the prospect of pursuing doctoral studies was daunting,” said Monetti. “This experience gave me so much more than teaching credentials.”
Mobley, who holds an adjunct faculty position at Rowan University and is pursuing a full-time tenure-track position there, said that NJNI “encouraged and enhanced better teaching skills. I plan on giving my professional best in return.”
“I’ve always loved the profession, and I’m eager to teach other nurses in the future,” said Branch, a family nurse practitioner who hopes to become a primary care provider and teach part time.
Johnson, a family nurse practitioner who plans to teach part time this fall, said that the scholarship benefited her research on adolescent obesity, enhancing both her clinical and academic skills. “I’d like to eventually serve as a dean or in a similar leadership role,” she said. “It’s important to have nurses in those positions.”
NJNI’s priorities now include:
  • An Online Faculty Development Program;
  • Enhanced partnerships with other organizations, including a key role with the New Jersey Action Coalition, which helps the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action implement recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 2010 nursing report as part of a nationwide effort to transform nursing and the delivery of health care in America;
  • Promoting educational initiatives and pilot projects that will attune nursing education to community-based and population health; and
  • Encouraging curricular and instructional changes in nursing to better reflect health care trends.
The New Jersey Nursing Scholars are available for interviews, and photographs of them are available upon request.
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For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at