The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Coffman Named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’


NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
September 24, 2009                                                                   202/371-1999
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Coffman Named
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Diabetes Researcher Working with Latinas is Selected for Prestigious Program to
Advance Careers of the Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Charlotte, N.C.— Maren Coffman, Ph.D., RN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct research on health literacy and diabetes among Latinas. Coffman 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 enable me to enhance my skills as an academic leader and nurse scientist, and to study the effectiveness of a self-management intervention in Latinos who have diabetes,” Coffman said.
For her research, Coffman will be using a health literacy approach to reach out to Latinas with diabetes. Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services. Health literacy skills help individuals better comprehend health issues, navigate the health system, and take independent action with regards to their health. Coffman will be focusing on Latinas with diabetes in the Charlotte area and will reach out to study participants using local Latino churches, community service agencies, and Spanish language newspapers and radio.
“As a young nurse, I had an opportunity to spend over a year living in South America, where I learned the customs of the people and became fluent in the Spanish language. This experience led to my passion to understand and respond to the health care needs of Latinos wherever they live,” said Coffman. “Access to health care and an understanding of the health care system has been challenging for many Latinos in the area, causing even those with serious illnesses to defer medical treatment” she added.
Mary A. Nies, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., F.A.A.H.B., Professor and Carol Grotnes Belk Endowed Chair in Nursing at UNC Charlotte, School of Nursing, and Owen Furuseth, Ph.D., A.I.C.P., Professor and Associate Provost for Metropolitan Studies, Academic Affairs/Department of Geography at UNC Charlotte, will serve as her mentors.
“Coffman’s research on health literacy and Latinas with diabetes will not only benefit a population in need, but will highlight the important role nurses play in the greater health care arena,” Dr. Nies said. “The findings of her research will be easily transferable to other areas, beyond diabetes, and the health literacy findings will be useful to nurses in a wide variety of health care settings.”
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
# # # #
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.

UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research institution. Fourth largest among the 17 schools in the UNC system, it is the largest public university in the greater Charlotte metropolitan region. A doctoral institution, UNC Charlotte serves the region through applied research, knowledge transfer and engaged community service. Approximately 24,700 students, including 5,300 graduate students, are enrolled in one of the University’s comprehensive doctoral, master’s or bachelor’s programs. Follow us on the Web at, through Facebook at, Twitter at UNCCLT_News and our blog at