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Two Villanova Nursing PhD students selected as Future of Nursing Scholars

Two PhD students from the Villanova University College of Nursing, Brittany Stark, MSN, RN, and Michelle McKay, MSN, RN, CCRN, are among the second cohort of 46 Future of Nursing Scholars selected from schools of nursing across the country. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced the names of the nurses on July 9. The two scholarships are funded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and awarded by Villanova University.

“Brittany Stark and Michelle McKay represent the future of nursing. They are intelligent, forward thinking, committed and highly motivated scholars who will provide exceptional leadership to the nursing profession. The investment of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Independence Blue Cross in them is an investment in quality health care,” notes M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor.

Stark has research interests in organ transplant and victims of human trafficking.  McKay will target trauma prevention in the geriatric patient as well as explore nursing practices that support the appropriate care of the elderly post traumatic injury.  She has particular interest in improving communication with the patient and the family involving prognosis and planning for discharge.

Each Future of Nursing Scholar will receive financial support, mentoring, and leadership development over the three years of her or his PhD program. The Future of Nursing Scholars program launched last year with an inaugural cohort of 16 scholars. This new cohort brings the number of nurses the program is supporting to 62. Each scholar receives a $75,000 grant from a funder, and an additional $50,000 from the school of nursing she or he attends.

RWJF established the program to meet the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark future of nursing report to double the number of nurses in the United States with doctoral degrees. The program’s goal is to support more nurse leaders, promote nurse-led science and discovery, and put more educators in place to prepare the next generation of nurses.


Alumna and PhD student, Brittany Stark, MSN, RN, is a critical care nurse with an interest in organ trafficking.
Alumna Michelle McKay, MSN, RN, CCRN, will research nursing interventions relating to geriatric trauma during her PhD program.