First Cohort of Future of Nursing Scholars Set to Transform Health Care

by / Thursday, 23 February 2017 / Published in Nursing Education

From left to right, the first cohort of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars, funded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation: Stephen Perez, RN, MS, NP; Liz Novack, RN, BSN; Faith Atte, RN, MSN.

How can health policy decisions affect infectious disease outcomes and patient safety in health systems? How much can nurses improve the overall health of women who have experienced intimate partner violence using a trauma-informed approach to care? What factors are associated with the burden family members face when caring for military veterans with traumatic brain injury?

These are the important questions that Stephen Perez, Liz Novack, and Faith Atte, the first cohort of scholars funded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, are working to answer as they complete their final year as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars. They will complete their respective programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University in late spring.

Upon graduating, Stephen, Liz, and Faith will join the vital group of PhD-prepared nurses that are influencing health care across the country through their doctoral research and analysis.

Future of Nursing Scholars: Cohort 1

Stephen Perez, RN, MS, NP: The impact of health policies on health care-associated infections
Stephen’s findings have the potential to influence policy mandates and, ultimately, to improve patient safety and outcomes. “The training a PhD provides, not just in research but in translating research into real world solutions, is integral to shaping improvements [in] health care,” says Stephen.

Liz Novack, RN, BSN: The physical, mental, and emotional health of women impacted by intimate partner violence
Liz hopes to understand the trauma that these women experience, and use it to develop the most effective care plans. “We are beginning to see the long-term impact of intimate partner violence on a woman’s health and the negative impacts are immense. Nurses have the ability to build trusting relationships with their patients. [This] can be an important intervention point for women to disclose violence,” she says.

Faith Atte, RN, MSN: The veteran population and their family caregivers
“For a long time, policy analysts have viewed family members as informal caregivers whose services to care receivers stem from a moral obligation, and not as an extension of the workforce,” she says. These family members provide significant financial, emotional, and psychological support. Her research could help inform health policies that provide services to these families to reduce the burden of care.

As these soon-to-be PhDs spend the next few months analyzing their data, writing their dissertations, and making post-doctoral plans, five additional Future of Nursing Scholars that were funded by the IBC Foundation will be in the midst of their doctoral programs. Stay tuned to hear their stories in upcoming posts.


Zaynah Henry
Zaynah joined the Independence Blue Cross Foundation in 2016. In her current role as a program specialist, she is responsible for managing the Foundation’s Bolstering the Healthcare Workforce initiative, which supports the education and professional development of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral nursing students in the region. Zaynah previously worked as a health communications fellow for the President’s Cancer Panel at the National Cancer Institute, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Behavior Science and Master of Science degree in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware.

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