Building an Undergraduate Nursing Honors in the Major Program to Develop New Nurse Scholars

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 11:10 AM

Nancy R. Ahern, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe the benefits of offering an undergraduate Honors in the Major program to qualified nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to relate strategies nursing faculty can use to develop and facilitate an HIM program introducing students to nursing scholarship opportunities

A primary role of the collegiate nurse educator is to introduce students to an understanding of the discipline of nursing. An educational outcome of this inquiry process is lifelong learning, especially in nursing scholarship. Nursing scholarship opportunities can prepare students who want to contribute as leaders to the nursing profession. One of the first steps toward becoming a nurse scholar can be the participation in a nursing Honors in the Major (HIM) program. Qualified nursing students may be motivated to begin an honors program, but many lack the commitment to complete a thesis in addition to the challenges of a complex curriculum. The CINAHL database was searched using key terms (nursing honors, honors in the major, or nursing scholarship). Search results for evidenced-based literature to assist the collegiate educator in the establishment of an HIM program revealed a paucity of empirical evidence (n=6). This presentation provides the strategies used by a nursing HIM coordinator to build an existing program into one that is multi-campus that has grown exponentially (400% increase in two years). Recruitment and mentorship begin during university orientations and continue through graduation. Successful strategies have included: establishment of advisement protocols; development of a faculty handbook; presentation of faculty and student orientations; formation of support groups; presentation of workshops; formation of an online course for enhanced communication and support; and ongoing mentorship of faculty and students. Anecdotally, graduates have reported leadership and scholarship opportunities afforded to them due to their participation in this program. Plans are underway to develop a reliable and valid evaluation tool to be used with HIM alumni after the third year of the new program. The passion and commitment and ongoing mentorship have resulted in a thriving program with more students being successful with their journey to scholarship than ever before.