Montana State University Nursing Professor Named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’


NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
September 28, 2009                                                                   202/371-1999
Montana State University Nursing Professor Named
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Environmental Health Researcher Partnering with Ft. Peck Tribes is Selected for Prestigious
Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Bozeman, MT-- Sandra Kuntz, PhD, PHCNS-BC, RN, an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Montana State University, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to develop a community-based participatory research project with public health and tribal environmental protection partners on the Fort Peck reservation to investigate the potential and actual exposure to methylmercury in women of childbearing age. The project replicates preliminary and continuing studies conducted with community members on the Flathead reservation. Kuntz is one of just 15 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins this month.
“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will further develop the partnership between myself and community members to identify and reduce infant/child mortality and morbidity related to environmental toxins including methylmercury” Kuntz said.
This partnership will work to refine the research methods necessary to determine risk awareness, fish consumption patterns, and actual exposure to methylmercury in childbearing-age women. The Fort Peck Reservation is the home of two Tribal Nations, Sioux and Assiniboine. Approximately 6,000 tribal members live on the reservation bounded to the south by the Missouri River and located in the northeast corner of Montana.
Elizabeth Nichols, DNS, RN, FAAN, Montana State University College of Nursing, Professor Emeritus, and Suzanne Christopher, Ph.D., a Professor in the College of Health & Human Development and Project Director/Principal Investigator for the Center for Native Health Partnerships at Montana State University, will serve as mentors.
“In addition to her community-based participatory research on the effects of environmental exposures on infant mortality and morbidity, Sandra Kuntz is particularly interested in working within the community to recruit Native American men and women into undergraduate and graduate nursing education and research in order to more effectively reduce health disparities in the population,” Dr. Christopher said.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s“Nurse Faculty Scholar” award aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.
Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a severe shortage of nurse educators that threatens to undermine the health and health care of all Americans. Many nursing schools lack the resources needed to hire and support enough faculty to train the next generation of nurses. As a result, nursing schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants—rejecting the very people who can help reverse a serious looming nurse shortage. As the supply of nurses shrinks and the demand for their services grows, patient care will suffer.
The Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program aims to curb the effects of the nursing shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.
The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.
To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.
The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
To learn more about the program, visit
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we’ve brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime.