Graduate School News

Doctoral Student is One of Five to Receive National Scholarship Focused on Future Nurse Faculty

October 2, 2012

Nakia Best

Nakia C. Best

Nakia C. Best, a first-year doctoral student and former clinical assistant professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship from a national program focused on alleviating the nurse faculty shortage and enhancing diversity among nurse educators.

Best was one of five nursing students nationwide to receive the Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship; the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future provides funding for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)-administered program.

Scholarship awardees receive $18,000 in funding, as well as mentoring and leadership development. They will serve as nurse faculty after completing their degree programs.

In May 2012, Best was named a Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar — a first for a School of Nursing student. The national scholarship program is a collaborative effort between the AACN and the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence.

Best was a member of the School of Nursing clinical faculty for four years before beginning her doctoral studies in the fall semester of 2012.

Her research interests include health information technology; she recently completed post-master’s degree training in applied health informatics at Johns Hopkins University. “I have always been interested in informatics and how health-care professionals can use it to improve efficiency, patient safety and quality of care,” she said.

In particular, she said she saw the potential of health information technology “because the many people who do not have equal access to care are in distant geographic locations or are elderly, increasing their risk of mortality and poor health behaviors.

“It is my hope that I can develop a body of research that will meet the needs of these populations.”

Best received her BSN from Winston-Salem State University and practiced nursing in cardiovascular intermediate care and cardiothoracic surgical intensive care units. While serving as a preceptor for new staff members, she discovered her interest in teaching. She continued her education, obtaining an MSN from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Best said she counted her colleagues as key influences in her decision to pursue a doctoral degree.

“They sparked something in me and I knew that I had to go further in my nursing career so that I could increase my opportunities to do the same.”