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Independence Blue Cross Foundation introduces new doctoral nursing fellows

PHILADELPHIA, PA., July 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) has announced the next three Foundation Nurse Scholars who will participate in the Future of Nursing Scholars program, an initiative created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to increase the number of PhD prepared nurses in the United States. The scholars join three other local PhD nursing candidates from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Villanova University College of Nursing who received the first Future of Nursing fellowships last September.

The Foundation is a founding funder the Future of Nursing Scholars program and has committed $600,000 to a total of eight students over three consecutive cohorts to support transformational leadership in nursing through education, research, and policy.

The three scholars in the second cohort receiving the Independence Blue Cross Foundation fellowships are:

• Christine Bader, MS, BSN, RN-BC (University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing)
• Brittany Stark, MSN, RN (Villanova University College of Nursing)
• Michelle McKay, RN, MSN, CCRN (Villanova University College of Nursing)

The scholars doctoral research will focus on a variety of relevant health issues. Christine Bader's area of interest is related to people who have experienced major extremity trauma, such as the loss of a limb, and how they manage pain as they transition from hospital to rehabilitation, then back to their daily life. Brittany Stark has research interests in organ transplant and victims of human trafficking. Michelle McKay will target trauma prevention in the geriatric patient population as well as explore nursing practices that support the appropriate care of the elderly post traumatic injury. She has particular interest in improving communication with the patient and the family involving prognosis and planning for discharge.

"It's important to create practical opportunities for nurses to earn PhDs to build a pipeline of qualified nurse educators and leaders," said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. "We are excited to continue to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of our nation's premier public health leaders, to help fund this important initiative. It is a natural extension of our deep commitment to nursing."

A $20 million program, RWJF's Future of Nursing Scholars program aims to develop the next generation of PhD-prepared nurse leaders who are committed to long-term leadership careers, strengthen nursing education, and bring transformational change to nursing and health care. The students will receive stipends, mentoring, leadership development, and dedicated post-doctoral research support. The Future of Nursing Scholars program launched last year with an inaugural cohort of 16 scholars, of which the Foundation funded three scholars. This new cohort brings the number of nurses the program is supporting to 62, in 28 nursing schools throughout the nation, including two prestigious nursing schools in southeastern Pennsylvania.

"The generous funding our scholars will receive from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation will alleviate the financial barrier that often impedes nurses from continuing their education," said Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. "Through the commitment of two leaders in health – funding from the Foundation and nursing expertise from the RWJF – nurses will gain the knowledge to become model educators and innovative, thoughtful leaders. We value the opportunity for our students to contribute to and enhance their experience as part of this prestigious national program."

"Brittany Stark and Michelle McKay represent the future of nursing. They are intelligent, forward thinking, committed and highly motivated scholars who will provide exceptional leadership to the nursing profession," said M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor, Villanova University College of Nursing. "The investment of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Independence Blue Cross in them is an investment in quality health care."

About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The Foundation targets the following areas of impact:

Securing the Blue Safety Net: Supporting private, nonprofit community health centers that increase access to quality, affordable healthcare in medically underserved areas.
Bolstering the Health Care Workforce: Strengthening the nursing, primary care, and allied health workforce through education, career development, and research.
Addressing Health Priorities: Collaborating with wellness partners to tackle the region's most pressing health challenges; currently combating the obesity epidemic through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative.
Building Healthier Communities: Partnering with community leaders and programs to address community health and wellness needs.

Learn more by visiting our website: www.ibxfoundation.org. Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on Twitter and Instagram at @ibxfdn.

CONTACT: Ruth Stoolman Independence Blue Cross Ruth.stoolman@ibx.com 215-241-4807 (office) 215-667-9537 (cell)

Source:Independence Blue Cross Foundation