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Medical College of Georgia’s Thomas Named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’

NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz September 23, 2009                                                                   202/371-1999

Medical College of Georgia’s Thomas Named
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Health Disparities Researcher Working with Rural Communities is Selected for Prestigious
Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Augusta, Ga.—Tami Thomas, Ph.D., C.P.N.P., R.N.C., an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the Medical College of Georgia, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study strategies to slow the spread of viral sexually transmitted infections in rural communities. Thomas 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 study and hopefully reduce health disparities that leave girls and women from rural communities with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections,” Thomas said.
In her research, Thomas is using community-based research approaches to explore barriers in rural communities to vaccination for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which cannot be obtained by girls and young women without parental consent. HPV can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. It has been linked it to other forms of cancer as well. Thomas hopes to use the findings to develop culturally sensitive interventions to increase the vaccination rate for HPV in rural areas.
“A one-size-fits-all approach to prevention will not work equally well in all regions of the country,” Thomas said. “My research aims to help health care providers overcome the unique set of obstacles to prevention in rural communities.”
Lucy Marion, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., Dean of the School of Nursing at the Medical College of Georgia, and Daron Ferris, M.D., Professor of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, will serve as Thomas’ mentors. “Tami Thomas’ work has the potential to significantly improve the health of girls and young women in rural communities,” Marion said. “What we learn from her research may have applications that are broader than learning how to increase usage of this one vaccine.” 
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.