KINGSTON, R.I. — Nov. 21, 2023 — A new University of Rhode Island College of Nursing fellowship that aims to develop the next generation of nursing faculty members has secured its first graduate student, who will begin in the College’s Ph.D. program in January 2024.
Kristine Robin, an experienced women’s health nurse practitioner, will be the inaugural member of the Dr. Donna Schwartz-Barcott and Dr. Hesook Suzie Kim Nursing Fellowship when she begins in the spring semester. She plans to continue specializing in women’s health with the goal of expanding her research portfolio and one day teaching at the collegiate level.
“I’ve been practicing as a nurse practitioner since 2011, and I always thought about going back and teaching and doing research,” Robin said. “I’m from Rhode Island, I grew up in Rhode Island, and URI is such a wonderful program doing some really great research. As I was looking at what programs I should apply to, URI was very highly recommended. It’s a very well thought-of program, and this gives me a chance to work with people I really respect.”
Robin currently serves as an NP at the Family Health Center of Worcester, where she cares for a diverse population with gynecological and obstetrical concerns, including contraception, irregular bleeding, pelvic pain, STI screening/treatment and more. She previously focused on women’s health as an NP at JBSA-Randolph Clinic on the Randolph Airforce Base in Texas, at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, and at Thameside ObGyn Centre in Groton, CT. Robin earned her master of science in nursing degree from Boston College and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Colby College.
She said she plans to continue her focus on women’s health, focusing her research specifically on contraceptive health, an issue that has grown in importance given the charged political climate around reproductive health in the country.
“I’m very interested in contraceptive access, contraceptive counseling, and that is what I’d like to research,” Robin said. “I think we’ve seen so much policy throughout the U.S. about reproductive health and I would like to see what are the outcomes of these policies through the lens of patient decision making and provider contraceptive counseling. Are we seeing geographic trends? What can we do to empower our patients and our providers in this kind of climate right now?”
Robin enters the Ph.D. program with the goal of helping educate the next generation of health care leaders, sharing the goal of the Barcott-Kim fellowship. The endowment, which has garnered more than $1.7 million in contributions, aims to develop nursing faculty members, addressing a nationwide shortage that has caused nursing schools across the country to turn away thousands of qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
“I would love to go into academia, doing research and teaching at an academic institution,” Robin said. “I’ll maybe continue doing some clinical work on the side, but I’d like to shift my focus toward education and research.”
Named for two former URI College of Nursing professors, the Fellowship will build the faculty pipeline by selecting and supporting registered nurses whose research interest stems from their area of practice. Candidates for the fellowship must demonstrate a commitment to research and teaching, and maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Students on the Ph.D. track are preferred, but doctor of nursing practice candidates will also be considered.
“The fellowship is important in so many ways. It will increase access to full-time study and address the nursing faculty shortage,” Schwartz-Barcott said. “These nursing scholars will be able to take insights from practice, generate and synthesize new knowledge and bring this back to the classroom and practice.”
Professor Emerita Kim was a URI College of Nursing professor from 1973 until her retirement in 2004, and dean of the College from 1983 to 1988. She also was a professor at University of Oslo in Norway from 1992 to 2003. She has been an international researcher and leader in nursing theory development with an emphasis on the nature of nursing practice.
Schwartz-Barcott has more than 20 years of experience in guiding graduate students and mentoring faculty. She has collaborated internationally with researchers in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Korea. Her research focused on pain, anxiety, and other central phenomena experienced by patients across nursing care settings; community health; inductive approaches to theory development; and sociocultural influences on health and illness.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of donors who have made the Barcott-Kim Fellowship possible,” said URI Provost Barbara Wolfe. “This Fellowship recognizes the legacies of Dr. Barcott and Dr. Kim, and provides an enormous opportunity to recruit exceptional and talented graduate students like Kristine to study at the state’s flagship university.”
The college has made a concerted effort to expand and enhance its capacity to impact health care, health education and health research, resulting in a significant jump up the national ranks. The College’s master’s degree program has drawn particular attention, rising from a rank of 130 just six years ago to the top 50 in the country this year. Similarly, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program and undergraduate offerings have soared into the top 80 and top 70, respectively.