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Sarah Szanton, Ph.D., C.R.N.P. Selected as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar


NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
September 1, 2011                                                                     202/371-1999
Johns Hopkins University’s Szanton Named a
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Disabilities Researcher Studying Impact of Home Improvements on the Health of Disabled, Low-Income Seniorsis Selected for PrestigiousProgramto Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Baltimore, Md.—Sarah Szanton, Ph.D., C.R.N.P.,an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) toinvestigate whether disabled, low-income seniors can realize health benefits when their homes are more functional. Szanton is one of just 12 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 next month.
“I am just thrilled to have this opportunity,” Szanton said. “The combination of a national mentor and a mentor at Johns Hopkins, in addition to the content offered through the Nurse Faculty Scholars program is a wonderful set of resources. I look forward to the time I will have to focus on my research and also to the opportunity to network with other nurse researchers across the country.”
For her research project, Szanton will implement and study a program that combines handyman services with nursing and occupational therapy, to see if improvements made to the homes of disabled, low-income seniors help reduce their stress hormones and improve their health. The improvements will address seniors’ mobility and their ability to navigate and function in their homes. 
Lack of control over one’s surroundings tends to raise an individual’s cortisol levels (cortisol is the hormone secreted in response to stress). Having elevated cortisol levels can exacerbate health conditions like high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, osteoporosis and other conditions common in seniors. Szanton’s work will determine whether making their homes more habitable reduces seniors’ stress and improves their health outcomes.
“As a nurse practitioner who’s done years of house calls, I’ve seen many patients really suffer when they can’t function in their homes,” Szanton said. “This research will demonstrate to what extent we need to consider environment when providing health care to patients.”
Szanton’s selection comes as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is embarking on a campaign to radically transform the nursing profession to improve health and health care. Based on the recommendations from a groundbreaking Institute of Medicine nursing report released last year—The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, RWJF is spearheading the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action to engage nurses and non-nurses in a nationwide effort to overhaul the nursing profession. The campaign is working to implement solutions to the challenges facing the nursing profession and to build upon nurse-based approaches to improving quality and transforming the way Americans receive health care.
Her mentors are:Miyong Kim, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., professor and chair of Health Systems and Outcomes at Johns Hopkins University; and Judy Kasper, Ph.D., professor in the School of Public Health.
The Robert Wood Johnson FoundationNurse FacultyScholars program 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 shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will vastly increase the number of people who can access health care in the United States. As the number of patients increases, there will be greater demand for skilled nurses and faculty to educate them. Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they lack the faculty to teach them.
The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping to curb the 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 at 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.
This is the fourth cohort of Nurse Faculty Scholars. Many members of the first three cohorts have been published and recognized for outstanding work since they were accepted into the program.
The Nurse Faculty Scholars 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 health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For nearly 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit