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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing 865 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



Foundation for Academic Nursing Announces First AACN Faculty Scholars

Published November 03, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC, November 3, 2020 – The Foundation for Academic Nursing, the philanthropic arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), is pleased to announce the first two recipients of the AACN Faculty Scholars Grant Program, which was launched earlier this year to support nurse educators whose scholarly activities reflect AACN’s strategic priorities. The nurse faculty receiving funding to launch new scholarly projects are Ann Graves, PhD, RN, Professor, University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, and Beth Culross, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing. Learn more about the winners here.

Scholarship Winners Headshots - Dr. Beth Culross and Dr. Ann Graves

“Supporting excellence and innovation in nursing education drives AACN’s mission and the work of the Foundation for Academic Nursing,” said AACN President and CEO Deborah Trautman. “AACN is proud to announce our first two Faculty Scholars whose work will help advance academic nursing’s priorities in the area of competency-based education and disaster response.”

The AACN Board of Directors approved the Faculty Scholars Grant Program in 2019 to spotlight the innovative work being led by nurse educators to redesign teaching and learning at AACN member schools. Funding for this program was provided by more than 150 nursing schools and organizations that contributed to AACN’s 50th Anniversary Celebration program. Through this initiative, a total of $100,000 in funding will be distributed to support four $25,000 faculty scholarship projects through 2022.

For the 2020-2021 awards, AACN issued a call for applications in May 2020 for scholarly projects focused on competency-based education to support the transition underway to the new AACN Essentials and on disaster response given nursing’s response to the pandemic.  A total of 104 applications were received from faculty throughout the nation, with 62 applications focused on disaster response and 42 on competency-based education. Each application was assessed and scored by 10 expert reviewers, and final selections were approved by AACN leadership.

The funded scholarly projects include:

Advancing Student Evidence-Based Practice Competency: Focused on the assessment and evaluation of competency-based education, Dr. Graves will examine student understanding of evidence-based practice (EBP) competencies with the goal of updating undergraduate course curriculum and assignments. This study will highlight the translation of specific student data using valid survey tools to guide the development of course content, objectives, and activities to advance student knowledge, beliefs, and self-efficacy in EBP.

Immersive Virtual Reality for COVID-19 Primary Care Nursing: With new forms of technology becoming more widely available for virtual simulation, nurse educators must understand the purpose and effectiveness of emerging modalities, including Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR). Led by Dr. Culross, this project will focus on the integration of innovative technology into course delivery to enhance nursing education models and increase the competency of nursing students in the care of COVID-19 patients using primary care and telehealth.    

Findings from these studies will be shared with the academic nursing community and published in the Journal of Professional Nursing. AACN will be issuing a new call for applications for a second round of AACN Faculty Scholar grants in early 2021.

Contributing to the Foundation for Academic Nursing

The Foundation for Academic Nursing is currently seeking support from philanthropies, corporate donors, and individuals looking to advance AACN’s goals and priorities. Your support will help to expand our impact and usher in new innovations in nursing education and practice. Those wishing to contribute are encouraged to donate online via the AACN web site. Click here to see a list of current donors.  For more information, please contact