Eric Hodges, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct research on childhood obesity risks and how parental feeding patterns influence infant and child eating patterns later in life. Hodges is one of just 15 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award this year. It is given to junior faculty who
Assistant professor Eric Hodges was selected as one of 15 Nurse Faculty Scholars nationally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins this month.
“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will enable me to help provide a window into childhood obesity, and whether there are preventative measures we can take early on to keep children healthy,” Hodges said.
For his research, Hodges will expand upon a previous study of first time mothers examining maternal feeding patterns. He will reconnect with participants in the initial study and through a combination of home visits and data collection, examine what, if any, patterns emerge between childhood obesity and early feeding habits. Hodges will focus on environmental and social factors that may contribute to obesity. Study participants are primarily located in the Durham and Orange County region.
“Nursing is ideally situated for childhood obesity prevention. Primary care and public health nurses are at the front lines, and combined with well child visits, we could really make an impact on reducing obesity risk,” said Hodges. “Finding out what part of obesity could be modifiable, and what particular patterns in infancy and toddlerhood might set children up for obesity, would allow us to prevent illness and apply early interventions.”
Margaret S. Miles, RN, PhD, Professor at UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing, and Margaret E. Bentley, PhD, Associate Dean and Professor at the Department of Nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill, will serve as his mentors.
“Hodges’ research on early feeding patterns and childhood obesity presents an opportunity to apply preventative measures in an epidemic that is quickly spiraling out of control in this country,” Dr. Miles said. “His work will contribute a great deal to this area of concern for so many parents and families.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholar” award aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing.
Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a severe shortage of nurse educators that threatens to undermine the health and health care of all Americans. Many nursing schools lack the resources needed to hire and support enough faculty to train the next generation of nurses. As a result, nursing schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants—rejecting the very people who can help reverse a serious looming nurse shortage. As the supply of nurses shrinks and the demand for their services grows, patient care will suffer.
The Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program aims to curb the effects of the nursing shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support, as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.
The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.
To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.
The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
To learn more about the program, visit www.rwjfnursefacultyscholars.org.