As outlined in the 2005 report, several changes to the T32 awards would strengthen them:
T32 awards should be placed only in research-intensive universities with strong interdisciplinary opportunities and research funding, and interdisciplinary activities should be a critical aspect of the initial NRSA application and annual reports.
T32 awards should be allocated only to schools with research-intensive environments including a cadre of senior investigators with extramurally funded research and research infrastructures that support research and research training.
The application process for T32 positions as predoctoral trainees or postdoctoral fellows should be more formalized, with specific proposals submitted in relationship to their research and the match with faculty at the institution made explicit.
Criteria for selection of T32 fellows and trainees should be based on a consistent, full-time plan for research training and long-term potential for contribution to science and nursing.
The monitoring and tracking of trainees and fellows should be formalized with changes in research plans or mentor(s) filed as part of the annual report.
A growing number of nurse-investigators are receiving K awards from NINR through the following mechanisms: K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award; Minority K01, Mentored Research Scientist Development Award for Minority Investigators; K22, Career Transition Award and K23, Mentored Patient Oriented-Research Career Development Award; and K24, Mid-Career Investigator Award in Patient Oriented Research. In addition, other NIH institutes and centers support nursing research through the K mechanisms, because elements of nursing research are intrinsic to other fields.
Recently, NINR staff have been advising potential K awardees to apply instead for small R-series awards. To compete in an era of limited research dollars, the availability of these early and mid-career awards needs to be increased and encouraged. There is little systematic information on the outcomes of these awards, e.g., successful research grants and publications by awardees. Based on the success in other fields, however, and the need for strongly research-prepared faculty to concentrate on the science necessary for practice, the committee believes that expanding such awards would benefit the field.
In addition to the recommendations which cross disciplines, the committee recognizes that the graying of the professoriate and need for nurse-scientists is particularly acute in nursing.
Recommendation 7–1: T32 programs in nursing should emphasize the rapid progression into research careers. Criteria should include identification of predoctoral trainees who are within 8 years of high school graduation, streamlining the master’s degree in passing to the Ph.D., and postdoctoral training within 2 years of completion of the Ph.D.
Recommendation 7–2: T32 awards should focus on programs where students and fellows have the opportunity to work with senior scientists, and applications to slots should require applicants a specific research and mentoring plan.
Recommendation 7–3: NINR should increase the number of mid- and senior career awards to enhance the number of scientists capable of sustaining programs of research and should increase the length of support for K awards to 5 years to be consistent with other institutes and centers.
Recommendation 7–4: Given the size of the NINR budget and the acute need for nursing faculty, the NIH should consider an infusion of support to allow NINR to more closely meet the needs.
Recommendation 7–5: To enhance the rapid progression for clinical scientist training, NINR should develop and pilot-test an MSTP-like program to support clinical training at the M.S.N. or D.N.P. level for those wishing to be clinician-scientists.