UNC PhD students Tran and Kimball receive RWJF Future of Nursing Scholars grant

Allie Tran, BSN, RN, and Amber Kimball, BSN, RN, are the 2016 recipients of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars grant, which will provide funding, mentoring and leadership development as they pursue their PhDs at the UNC School of Nursing.

The School is one of only 32 schools in the country to receive the prestigious grant, whose mission is to increase the number of nurses holding PhDs. The program was initiated after the Institute of Medicine recommended that the U.S. double the number of nurses with doctorate degrees in order to advance nursing health care, promote nurse-led science and discovery and create more educators for the teaching of future generations of nurses. The UNC School of Nursing received critical matching funds from alumna Carolyn London, BSN ’56, and the Carl S. Swisher Foundation to bring the grant to Carolina.

Tran earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Distinction from the University of Virginia in 2010. She began her career in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at the UVA Health System. Struck by the impact of work environment issues on turnover in nursing staff, her experience at the MICU sparked her research interest in such work environment problems, as well as issues with nursing turnover and the financial effects of turnover on an organization. Her research under the grant will aim to uncover more knowledge in this area.

Tran also served as adjunct faculty for the UVA School of Nursing, teaching inter-professional education workshops for nursing and medical students.

Kimball earned her Associates Degree in Nursing from Guilford Technical Community College and her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Winston Salem State University. For two years she worked in acute care in orthopedic, cardiology and surgical oncology.

At three years old, Kimball was diagnosed bilaterally profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant from UNC Hospitals in 1994. She used this experience to conduct a research study at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital that investigates overcoming communication barriers between health-care professionals and patients who are hard of hearing. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss.

Kimball plans to utilize the grant to discover new interventions that may benefit those with hearing loss in acute care settings.

Between 2010, when an Institute of Medicine report calling for more doctorally prepared nurses was released, and 2014 enrollment in general PhD programs in the U.S. had increased 14.6 percent, while enrollment in nursing doctoral programs has increased 160 percent, thanks to the efforts of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others.

“At RWJF, we are striving to grow the number of nurses with PhDs who will be prepared to assume leadership positions across all levels,” said Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, co-director of the program and RWJF’s senior adviser for nursing.

The program will incentivize nurses to start PhD programs earlier, allowing for longer research and leadership careers after earning their PhDs.