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Physician-Scientist Workforce (PSW) Report 2014

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Nurse-Scientists as Participants in the NIH-funded Workforce

Identifying nurse-scientists who receive NIH support is difficult. Nurse-scientists have research degrees (generally a PhD) and their nursing degree often does not appear on the NIH application.

To gather data on the trends for nurse-scientists as participants in the NIH-funded workforce, the following search strategy was employed in the NIH data system: Principal Investigators (PIs) were categorized as nurse-scientists if they listed any nursing degree or license in the following list: RN, RNP, BSN, MSN, ANP, PNP, ARNP, FNP, CRNA, DSN, CNM, DNSc, DNS, DNP, FAAN, DRNP, CAN, APRN, CNRN.

This search strategy may substantially underestimate the number of nurse-scientists. To obtain more accurate numbers of nurse-scientists would require analysis of the “field of study” field and review of biosketches. Thus the numbers in the charts should be viewed as rough estimates of trends.

NIH RPG Award Rates

Between 1999 and 2012, there was a 53 percent increase in the number of nurse-scientist applicants for NIH research project grants (RPG), as seen in Figure 4.3. Most of this increase happened between 1999 and 2005. Between 2005 and 2012, the number of applicants has been relatively flat.

Figure 4.3 Individual NIH Research Project Grant Applicants, Nurse-Scientist (FY1999-2012)

The number of nurse-scientist awardees increased modestly until recent budget constraints (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4. Individual NIH Research Project Grant Awardees, Nurse-Scientist (FY1999-2012)

Data were aggregated over 5 year windows to reduce double counting of individuals who apply multiple times or were awarded multiple grants during that window.


Among nurse-scientists applying for and receiving RPGs from the NIH, women outnumbered men by approximately nine to one (see Figure 4.5); during this period, men and women had similar individual RPG award rates.

Figure 4.5. Individual Research Project Applicants, Nurse-Scientist, by Gender (FY1999-2012)

Effects of Early Career NIH Programs on Nurse-Scientists

Between 1992 and 2012, NINR supported 388 post-doctoral appointees via the T32 mechanism (see Table 4.2). Of these, 219 could be identified in the IMPACII database using the previously described search strategy for the years 1999 to 2008. Of the T32 trainees identified, 91 (41.6 percent) subsequently applied for a research project grant (RPG). Of those who applied, 31.87 percent were awarded grants. When looking specifically at R01 RPGs, 47 of the T32 appointees applied and nine (19.2 percent) were awarded grants.

Table 4.2. RPG Applications and Awards Among T32 Postdoctoral Appointees, 1999-2008

Table 4.2. RPG Applications and Awards Among T32 Postdoctoral Appointees, 1999-2008


Between 1999-2012, the number of nurse-scientists who had received K awards and then applied for RPGs remained relatively flat. In 2012, of the 486 nurse-scientists who applied for RPG funding, 47 (approximately 10 percent) had a prior K award (Figure 4.6).

Figure 4.6 Individual NIH Research Project Grant Applicants, Nurse-Scientist, with/without Prior K Award (FY1999-2012)

Between 1999 and 2012, nurse-scientist RPG applicants who had a prior K award had higher award rates than did those without a prior K award, as seen in Figure 4.7. For example in 2012, 23.4 percent of nurse-scientists who had a prior K award received a RPG compared with 13.4 percent of those who did not have a prior K award.

Figure 4.7 Award Rate of NIH Research Project Grant Applicants, Nurse-Scientist, with/without Prior K Award (FY1999-2012)

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