September 06, 2021

Laura Dzurec, Ph.D.: Why a Nursing Scholarship is Important


To help ensure the education of highly skilled and well-prepared nurses, The Foundation for Delaware County is offering a scholarship to nursing doctoral candidates at Widener University’s School of Nursing.

The new Eva Miller Nursing Scholarship is underwritten by Gerald Miller in memory of his mother. Miller is a former chief executive of the Crozer-Keystone Health System.

For each of the next three years, the Widener School of Nursing will recommend a nursing doctoral student for the scholarship. The foundation will select the recipient based on the student’s research topic, transcript and evidence of financial need. The recipient will receive $5,000 to underwrite the costs associated with the student’s research.

Laura Dzurec, Ph.D., former dean of the School of Nursing, says the support will fill a huge gap in research funding for nurses who are working on their doctoral dissertation.

“What the scholarship covers is quite open,” she says. “It might cover, for example, the costs of reproducing instruments a student needs to collect data, or it might cover the costs of mailings, presentations or travel. Travel is expensive and few people are interested in supporting it.”

The scholarship comes at a critical moment as health care practices and policy continue to evolve. The demand for skilled nurses and nursing faculty is exploding worldwide due to the aging of the population, technology advances that are saving lives, and the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions requiring nursing support.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects employment data for a variety of job types, says that at least until 2024 – as far out as the bureau makes its projections – the number of jobs forecasted at every level of nursing will easily outpace job growth for the nation. Job growth for all occupations is expected to grow by 7 percent in this time frame, compared with forecasted growth rates of 16 percent for registered nurses and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. For highly skilled nurses – such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists – BLS is expecting a 31 percent growth in jobs.

Anticipating this demand, a 2010 seminal report by the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine called for a transformation of the nursing profession. Among its aggressive recommendations, the report called for a doubling of the number of nurses with a doctoral degree by 2020.

Dzurec says the profession is in dire need of nursing educators who can prepare nurses for the future.

“At issue is the fact that we are in a terrible faculty shortage and have been for some time,” she says. “And many times, when people leave the clinical arena to take on teaching roles, they are not prepared to teach.

“A good bit of the work that our doctoral nursing students do is committed to advancing the science of nursing education, an area that has been broadly overlooked over the last 25 years or so. However, it’s always been a focus at Widener, and we’re really pleased to have the support of the Eva Miller Scholarship. Funding like this helps us make the contributions to the science of nursing education that we aspire to make.”