Four PhD students at the UCF College of Nursing are receiving full scholarships thanks to the help of three new grants totaling $85,000. The college initially received a $40,000 grant from the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, which was matched by $25,000 from the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation and $20,000 from GENEX Services, Inc. to fund doctoral students and aid in the nationwide shortage of nurse faculty.

“As a leader in education, we are committed to the future of nursing through innovative research and the development of new thought leaders to educate the next generation of nurses,” said Dr. Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing. “Funding, such as this, is critical to support our students’ education and research goals.”

Addressing a nationwide nurse faculty shortage

UCF Jonas Scholars join more than 1,000 future nurse educators and leaders at 140 universities in all 50 states supported by the Jonas Center programs, the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars Program and Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program (JVHP). The scholarships support nurses pursuing PhDs.

As the nation’s leading philanthropic funder of graduate nursing education, the Jonas Center is addressing the critical need for qualified nursing faculty. U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 70,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate programs in 2014 due in large part to an insufficient number of faculty.[i] Further, nearly two-thirds of registered nurses over age 54 say they are considering retirement.[ii] Faculty are needed to prepare more future nurses, which is critical as a clinical nurse shortage is anticipated just as an aging population requires care.

“This year, on our center’s 10th anniversary, we celebrate the achievement of supporting 1,000 scholars and are amazed by the talent of this cohort of future nurse leaders,” said Donald Jonas, who co-founded the center with Barbara Jonas, his wife. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partner nursing schools and to the great impact that the scholars will have on improving health care around the world.”

Receiving local support for Knight PhD nursing students

In addition to the national grant, the college received matching funds from two local efforts. The college was awarded a $25,000 gift from the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park, which aids organizations helping to improve the quality of life for people in Central Florida. “Edyth Bush had a lifelong interest in education, and it is critical to educate future nurses to care for the current and future residents in our community,” said David Odahowski, president of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. “We are pleased to be able to support four future educators, and the countless nurses they will educate, inspire and mentor.”

Alumna Myra Keleher, branch manager at GENEX Services in Orlando, nominated the college for the GENEX Case Manager Scholarship Award. “The (college) offers high quality, innovative academic programs that reflect the health care needs of a changing population,” said Keleher in her nomination letter. UCF was one of five universities nationwide to receive $20,000 from the managed care provider.

2016 UCF Jonas Scholars

The college awarded the scholarships to four students who demonstrated a commitment to nursing’s future and improving health care by addressing critical industry needs through their research. The 2016 Jonas Nurse Leader and Veterans Healthcare Scholars are:

Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars

  • Corinne Audette, MSN, CNM – A certified nurse midwife, Audette is committed to increasing the number of nurse midwifery leaders to promote positive change in health care policy, and improve health care for women and babies. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, a board member of the Central Florida Birth Chamber of Commerce and State of Florida representative for the Florida Nurse Midwives Legislative Committee. Audette also is one of four graduate nurses in the U.S. recently awarded a scholarship from the March of Dimes.
  • Suzanne Hyer, MSN, RN – Hyer’s lifelong passion for education began in her clinical career, educating patients to improve their health, and blossomed to a desire to teach future nurses. A demonstrated leader, Hyer was the recipient of a professional development fellowship from the U.S. Department of State and recently led a wellness program at the U.S. Embassy Health Unit in Panama. After beginning her career in a hospital setting in Arizona, she has worked in various education roles in health care including serving as a nurse consultant with the Food & Drug Administration. Her research focus is on health promotion and population health management.
  • Jonas Veterans Healthcare Scholars

  • Jean W. Davis, DNP, EdD, HCRM, ARNP, FNP-BC, PHCNS-BC – A wife, daughter and sister of veterans, and former Veterans Affairs Family Nurse Practitioner trainee, Davis plans to support veteran’s health care and quality of life by studying healthy aging and lifelong health promotion. Davis is also committed to nursing’s future, serving in various faculty roles for 20 years and earning several teaching and research awards.
  • Kelli M. Lipscomb, MSN, RN – A critical care nurse and current adjunct nursing instructor, Lipscomb grew up with servicemen in her family and witnessed the difficulties of assimilating back after deployment. She believes the role of simulation in health care is endless, from educating new nurses to positively impacting veterans and their spouses through training. Lipscomb wants to be part of the solution to aid veteran transition to non-active duty, and believes now is the time to create solutions with the new VA hospital opening in Orlando. She is enrolled concurrently in the PhD and Healthcare Simulation graduate certificate
  • Scholarship funds, which begin in fall 2016, will cover three years of tuition, books and stipend expenses to allow the doctoral students to focus on their studies and research. Scholarship recipients are enrolled full time in the online PhD program and are expected to graduate in summer 2018.

    For more information about the PhD program and other degree options at the UCF College of Nursing, visit

    [i] American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2014-2015 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing

    [ii] AMN Healthcare, 2015 Survey of Registered Nurses: Viewpoints on Retirement, Education and Emerging Roles