December 12, 2007

For Immediate Release

Lauren Cruse, UNM HSC Public Affairs (505) 272-3690; Adam Coyne, Robert Wood Johnson Foundationacoyne@rwjf.org; (609) 627-5894

Albuquerque, New Mexico - The University of New Mexico (UNM) has received a five-year, $4.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to increase the quantity and diversity of nurses with knowledge of health policy. Specifically, the grant will establish a health policy concentration in the nursing Ph.D. program at UNM, and support student scholarships and research. In addition, students will receive tuition and living expenses, along with resources for computers, books and travel. This commitment complements the mission of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM (Center) that was launched in 2006.

"The Health Sciences Center has a history of successfully partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation," says Paul Roth, MD, UNM executive vice president for Health Sciences. "I am pleased that the foundation has once again included the HSC, and specifically the College of Nursing, to address the need to increase the number of graduate students from New Mexico’s underrepresented populations."

The new nursing health policy curriculum will include Center-developed seminars and courses, interdisciplinary collaboration between the Center and College of Nursing (CON) faculty and students, and the publication of research. The curriculum will emphasize fundamental skills in research and will build on courses core to the Ph.D. in nursing. The partnership will provide unique interdisciplinary learning and research experiences for both nursing scholars and the social science scholars enrolled in the Center’s programs. CON will also work with the Center’s faculty to develop student internships in government, academia and industry.

"Nurses’ bond with patients and their link to quality of care is pivotal," said Dr. John Lumpkin, RWJF senior vice president. "Unfortunately, their perspective has been missing from the national health policy conversation. This program will give a diverse group of future leaders the background and skills they need to shape U.S. healthcare policy in the future."

Although Hispanic and Native American undergraduate nursing students at UNM reflect the ethnic population of New Mexico, these populations are underrepresented in graduate school. Nationwide, only a handful of Ph.D. level nurses are Hispanic, only five are Native American.

"A concentration in nursing health policy at UNM is tremendously important to the diverse populations of the state and nation," said Marie Lobo, PhD, CON Professor and Principal Investigator for the program. "There is a great need for more nursing scholars in health policy, particularly those who represent underserved populations where health disparities are the greatest. Our goal is to educate individuals who can represent their communities in the health policy discussions at the state and national levels."

The new nursing concentration follows the same principles that guide the RWJF Center?that development of health policy should be grounded in the experience of the affected population groups. UNM will be hiring two new CON faculty with expertise in health policy, offering student scholarships and recruiting its first group of RWJF Health Policy Nursing Scholars for the Summer semester, 2008. For more information, contact the UNM College of Nursing at (505) 272-4223.

The University of New Mexico is the state’s largest university, serving more than 32,000 students. UNM is home to the state’s only schools of law, medicine, pharmacy and architecture and operates New Mexico’s only academic health center. UNM is noted for comprehensive undergraduate programs and research that benefits the state and the nation.

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, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For 35 years RWJF has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems affecting the health of those it serves. To learn more, visit the Foundation’s website,www.rwjf.org.