NCIN Scholars Around the Country Meet with RWJF’s Sue Hassmiller

In her role as director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, travels across the country to meet with leaders who are working to transform nursing in their states.

During these trips, Hassmiller makes a point of seeking out and spending time with New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) scholars as well.

In December 2012, on a trip to meet with Hawaii’s Action Coalition, Hassmiller also visited with nurses and nursing students at the University of Hawaii. After a short presentation about the Campaign for Action and RWJF’s commitment to nursing, Hassmiller met with a group of NCIN scholars. She asked what led them to pursue nursing as their second careers, and how NCIN had made a difference in their education.

“It was fun watching the interaction between them,” University of Hawaii Masters Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) Director Allen Hanberg, PhD, RN, said. “Living here on a small island, it’s difficult to gain access to a lot of the resources that are available on the mainland, and so to have an opportunity like the NCIN program really makes a huge difference for our students who are underrepresented in nursing and also underserved with so many other resources.”

“I was impressed with her interest in hearing the students’ stories,” Hanberg adds. “She took the time to get to know them, and I think it made an impact on Sue to hear about their hardships and the challenges they face, and how much NCIN has impacted their lives.”

One NCIN scholar, Sayoko Hackler, told Hassmiller that watching her grandmother’s life-long struggle with diabetes motivated her to pursue a health care career. With the scholarship she’s received from NCIN, she feels confident she can eventually get a doctoral degree in nursing, and stay in Hawaii to practice and give back to her community.

Memorie Tiapula, who originally planned to go to medical school, realized she could still diagnose and treat patients as a family nurse practitioner, and complete her education in less time because of NCIN’s support for her enrollment in an accelerated nursing program. As a single mother, she values being able to complete her education more quickly. Tiapula said the NCIN program has enhanced her leadership skills, which will prove valuable in her new career.

NCIN Scholar Elizabeth Stoltzman shared her experience helping care for her father when she was young, after he was badly injured on the job and opted against amputation for a crushed foot. The NCIN program has helped her financially, but she says it has also helped her look at the profession differently. “The good thing about RWJF is that they’re providing us with so many avenues and keeping us just a step ahead of the game,” Stoltzman said. Though Hassmiller’s visit was her first introduction to the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, Stoltzman says she may well get involved in the movement after graduation. “It feels special to be among such leaders in nursing and I look forward to the opportunities that I think being an NCIN scholar is going to open up for me. I’m going to try to take it all in.”