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East Carolina University’s Roberson Named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’


NEWS RELEASE                                                                                          Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
September 23, 2009                                                                                                     202/371-1999
East Carolina University’s Roberson Named
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
HIV Researcher Working with Incarcerated Women is Selected for
Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Greenville, N.C.—Donna Roberson, Ph.D., FNP-BC, an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at East Carolina University, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study strategies to slow the spread of HIV infection among women who have been incarcerated or detained in jail. Roberson is one of just 15 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins this month.
“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will enable me to test sexual health educational tools targeted at women in jail, a population that receives little attention from health researchers but is at high risk of contracting HIV,” Roberson said.
For her research, Roberson will develop an educational tool that she hopes will help women detained or incarcerated in jail avoid contracting HIV upon release. Her goal is to eventually develop a standard prevention education protocol for use in jail settings.
Martha Engelke, R.N., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship at the College of Nursing at East Carolina University, and Eric Bailey, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., M.P.H., a Professor of anthropology and public health at East Carolina University, will serve as Roberson’s research mentors in the “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program.
“Incarcerated women often have a history of high risk sexual behaviors that increase their risk for HIV transmission,” Dr. Martha Engelke said. “Professor Roberson’s study will shed light on effective ways to teach women serving short-term jail sentences and detentions how to protect themselves after they are released.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s“Nurse Faculty Scholar” award aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.
Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a severe shortage of nurse educators that threatens to undermine the health and health care of all Americans. Many nursing schools lack the resources needed to hire and support enough faculty to train the next generation of nurses. As a result, nursing schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants—rejecting the very people who can help reverse a serious looming nurse shortage. As the supply of nurses shrinks and the demand for their services grows, patient care will suffer.
The Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program aims to curb the effects of the nursing shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.
The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.
To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.
The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
To learn more about the program, visit
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we’ve brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime.