The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) program today announced a $297,746 grant to the University of New Mexico College of Nursing to conduct a two-year multi-site evaluation of The Neighborhood, a virtual online community developed as a teaching tool for nursing students.

The United States faces an escalating shortage of nurses, driven in part by an aging population, a shortage of nurse faculty, and insufficient capacity in schools of nursing across the nation to accommodate qualified applicants. The grant is one of four awards made at the end of 2009 by the EIN program to support evaluation of promising innovations to address the consequences of the nurse faculty shortage.

Created by UNM College of Nursing Professor Jean Giddens, Ph.D., R.N.,The Neighborhood is a web-based virtual community featuring the stories of fictional characters that live within households in the “neighborhood” and are served by various community agencies. Their stories unfold over three semesters and are recorded on web pages that contain text, video vignettes and medical records that are used by faculty throughout the country in teaching nursing students. The independent evaluators will collect data on students and faculty using surveys, program records, interviews and focus groups, evaluating the impact of the program on faculty recruitment and retention as well as student graduation rates. Giddens will serve as project director for the grant.

“We’re very proud of the work we’ve done withThe Neighborhood,” Giddens says, “and this grant will allow us to get the benefits of a rigorous, independent evaluation of what we’re doing. We expect to learn a lot, and intend to put what we learn to good use.”

The Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education program is a national initiative to fund evaluations of ongoing interventions that have demonstrated promise to expand teaching capacity and/or promote faculty recruitment and retention in schools of nursing. Directed by the EIN National Program Office at Rutgers University, the program's ultimate goal is to increase the number of nursing school graduates by fostering replication of successful strategies.

“The University of New Mexico’s approach shows extraordinary promise in using technology to provide students with integrative and engaging learning experiences and faculty with a vehicle for invigorating their teaching practices,” said Michael Yedidia, Ph.D., director of the EIN program office. "We look forward to the evidence of its effectiveness generated by the evaluation and guidelines for making use of it in other settings."

EIN awarded four grants in December 2009, for up to $300,000 each. Grants fund evaluation projects lasting up to 24 months, to be conducted by independent evaluators. EIN will award a second round of up to ten grants of similar duration and size in September 2010.

Other December 2009 grants went to schools of nursing at:

The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, to evaluate an accelerated BSN program relying upon advanced technology, innovative course scheduling, and a combination of on-campus and remote sites for classroom and clinical education.

The University of Portland (Oregon), to evaluate a Dedicated Education Unit model, in which hospital staff nurses take on significant teaching roles, with guidance from nursing college faculty.

The University of Massachusetts, Boston, to evaluate another type of Dedicated Education Unit model employing different strategies for utilizing faculty and staff nurses calledPDQ(Partners for Dedicated Education Unit Development and Quality).

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on 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, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

About RWJF’s Programs in Nursing

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to addressing the nursing shortage by: 1) building nurse leadership capacity; 2) improving the work environment for nurses and faculty; 3) finding innovative ways to educate more nurses; and 4) promoting awareness of their central role in the health care delivery system among policy-makers and the general public. In support of this commitment, Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) funds evaluations of interventions that expand teaching capacity or promote faculty recruitment and retention in nursing schools. The EIN program’s ultimate goal is to increase the numbers of nursing school graduates.


Contact: Lauren Cruse, 272-3322