March of Dimes Donates $50,000 for Neonatal Nurse Program

Feb. 9, 2000

The North Texas Chapter of the March of Dimes presented Baylor University's Louise Herrington School of Nursing with a $50,000 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner grant -- the largest award given by the March of Dimes this year -- Feb. 4 at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

Dr. Phyllis S. Karns, dean and professor of the nursing school, and Dr. Pauline T. Johnson, professor and director of the graduate program in nursing, accepted the donation on behalf of the school at the 2000 WalkAmerica Leadership Breakfast.

Pediatrix Medical Group and the Magella Healthcare Group, national practice groups for neonatologists, have matched the grant by giving $25,000 each to the nursing school. The $100,000 in total grant awards specifically will be used for first year start-up costs to develop a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner track in the master of science in nursing program.

"The North Texas community for several years has asked that we start a program (for neonatal nurse practitioners) because the need is so high," Johnson said. "We're striving to make this a premiere program and we're very excited to be able to offer this program to the nurses in our area."

Johnson, who wrote the grant proposal, said the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program will be directed by a doctoral level faculty member who will develop, implement and coordinate the NNP curriculum. The program will begin this fall.

"There are very few doctorally prepared neonatal nurse practitioner faculty in the country," she said. "To develop a master's degree program to get neonatal nurse practitioners qualified for certification, it is necessary to find a qualified faculty member."

The neonatal nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with clinical expertise in newborn nursing who received formal education with supervised clinical experience in the management of sick newborns and their families. Specialized training enables the NNP to collaborate with a variety of healthcare professionals to comprehensively manage physical and developmental problems of the high-risk infant. All of this coincides with the goal of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies.

Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, attended the presentation and said the grant represents a time of growth in the new nursing program. "This will enable us to bring in faculty who will be central in the NNP program and its success," he said.

The Baylor School of Nursing was established in 1909 as a diploma program within Baylor Hospital in Dallas, which is now Baylor University Medical Center, and in 1950 became one of the degree-granting schools of Baylor University. The first bachelor of science in nursing degrees were awarded in 1954, establishing the school as one of the oldest baccalaureate nursing programs in the United States. The school was renamed the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in November, 1999, after Tyler philanthropist Louise Herrington Ornelas, co-founder of TCA Cable Inc. and a 1992 Baylor University Alumna Honoris Causa, presented a $13 million endowment gift to the school.

Fully accredited by a national accrediting organization, as well as the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas, the School of Nursing is centrally located just east of downtown Dallas on the campus of Baylor University Medical Center. An upper-level (junior and senior years) program, the School of Nursing offers a bachelor of science in nursing degree and a master of science in nursing degree in both nursing administration and management, and family nurse practitioner programs.

While the graduate program is relatively new, its reputation for excellence has been recognized. U.S. News and World Report in 1998 ranked the school 53rd out of 237 accredited graduate programs in nursing across the nation. It received the fourth-highest ranking in Texas.

Nearly 100 percent of Baylor's nursing school graduates who seek employment upon graduation find a position within one month and most are employed upon graduation.

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