Nursing Notes: Articles

“Grow Our Own” Helps Faculty by Degrees

It’s no secret nurses are in short supply, and there are a variety factors contributing to the strain.

Among them is the limited number of faculty available to teach the next generation of nurses. It’s a challenge that’s got universities across the country looking for ways to recruit dedicated teachers with doctoral degrees — or to cultivate them.

Launched in 2007, the “Grow Our Own” program is an innovative way that Seattle Pacific University's School of Health Sciences is increasing its number of Ph.D.-qualified faculty, and attracting new staff at the same time.

"Grow Our Own provides me with the finances and support I need to earn my doctorate degree," says Vicki Aaberg, an instructor of nursing at SPU. The first recipient of the program, Aaberg is criss-crossing the state each week to accommodate her class load at Washington State University, and her teaching and family life in Seattle.

"Without Grow Our Own, it would be much more difficult for me to earn my doctorate because I would need to work a second job to pay for tuition,” Aaberg says. “I'm just incredibly grateful."

The program is the brainchild of Lucille Kelley, dean of the School of Health Sciences. "It’s a long-term investment that helps solve the faculty shortage problem," Kelley says. "Grow Our Own makes it possible for present and future faculty to pursue their doctorate. The end result is win-win for our students, as our already highly qualified clinicians acquire greater levels of scholarship, regard for research, and teaching skills."

Erla Champ-Gibson, the newest recipient of Grow Our Own, agrees. "It’s so affirming to know that what I'm doing as a teacher is valued and the University is providing an impetus to earn my doctorate," she says. "The professionalism and broader picture this brings me is so valuable."

Grow Our Own is funded through generous donations to the School of Health Sciences, including through a new program called The Dean's Giving Circle. For more information on Grow Our Own, contact Dean Lucille Kelley at

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