New Hillman Scholars Program

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing has been awarded $3 million over five years from the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation to design and implement the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation.

The program is designed to produce the next generation of nurse innovators who have the knowledge and research skills to solve complex health problems and improve patient care.

Undergraduate nursing students selected as UNC Hillman Scholars will enter a rigorous curriculum of inquiry and research that places them on an accelerated path to earning a doctorate in nursing.

The curriculum is designed to take five years from entry into the nursing program to completion of the doctoral degree.

“The Hillman Foundation grant launches a new era for Ph.D. education in nursing,” said Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor Kristen M. Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN. “By completing a Ph.D. earlier in their career, the Hillman Scholars will have a longer time to impact patient care through leadership, innovation and research in academic and clinical settings.”

The Hillman Scholars Program grant supports the Innovate@Carolina Campaign, a $125 million drive to help make Carolina a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society.

Drs. Carol Durham and Merle Mishel

Kenan Distinguished Professor of Nursing Merle Mishel, RN, PhD, FAAN, and Clinical Professor Carol Durham, RN, EdD, ANEF, will lead the program with a unique combination of scientific inquiry, research and clinical expertise.

“Nurses are key to improving health care,” Durham said. “This program provides an opportunity to mentor six nursing students per year to examine the issues around patient care through a different lens and to design and implement nursing research that can address those issues to improve the care of the patient.”

The program will incorporate innovative educational approaches and clinical experiences to launch Hillman Scholars into nursing science. The scholars will be immersed in seminars that shape their thinking and guide the integration of what they learn. They also will take tailored clinical and research courses during a post-baccalaureate bridge summer.

“Hillman Scholars will be matched with mentors from within the School of Nursing and throughout UNC who will guide the scholars from their undergraduate honors research project through their dissertation,” Mishel said. “We will use the rich interdisciplinary resources of this university by directing the Hillman Scholars to researchers, clinics, lectures and activities that will enrich their education as well as influence their program of research.”

UNC joins the universities of Pennsylvania and Michigan as one of only three schools of nursing nationally that have been awarded a Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation grant.

The first six scholars will begin the program in spring 2013. They will be selected from students admitted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing option in May 2012 and the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing option in January 2013. The bachelor’s option is a six-semester curriculum open to students who are getting their first or second undergraduate degree, and the accelerated bachelor’s option is a four-semester curriculum for applicants who have already earned a baccalaureate or higher degree in another field of study.

The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation is a New York-based philanthropy dedicated to improving the lives of patients and their families through nurse-led innovation.

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