Can the J&J campaign help you?

Hospitals say it can do more than attract students

They "dare to care." So say the ads sponsored by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which are part of a campaign to address the nursing shortage and attract young people to nursing.

The $30 million Campaign for Nursing’s Future was launched in February 2002. The goal was simply to treat nursing like a brand and sell it, says Lori Culwell, the J&J consultant in charge of the project. It includes television ads, as well as posters, brochures, scholarships, regional fundraising events, and a web site ( They are available in both English and Spanish.

According to Culwell, so far the company has mailed out more than 2 million brochures and posters to schools, nursing programs, and hospitals. "People call in and order 100 posters for conferences," she says. "We even have a best seller, the African-American male nurse."

The regional events — dinners celebrating nursing with a hundred tables — have raised between $400,000 and $750,000, depending on the venue. The money is divided 50% to scholarships, 25% for faculty fellowships, and 25% for schools of nursing to open more classes, pay their teachers more, or hire more educators.

As expected, most of the use has been among schools of nursing, high schools, and career counselors. Of 1,030 schools surveyed in late December, 300 responded and 82% of them saw an increase in applicants and/or enrollment; 77% used the recruitment materials; 85% had positive feedback about the campaign; and 35% saw increased traffic to their website. As a specific example, Ohlone College in Fremont, CA, had a ten-fold increase in queries to the nursing school since they starting using the materials, and Culwell says many of those people mention the J&J ads specifically as a reason for their call.

But hospitals can make good use of the materials, too, says Marianne Ditomassi, RN, MSN, MBA, executive director of patient care services and operations at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. There, during the annual Nurse Recognition Week activities, the J&J posters were interspersed with the research posters the nurses display at that time.

"I don’t know that it helps us with the nursing shortage right now," Ditomassi admits. "But we have to think differently about the time horizon of dealing with this anyway. Handing a brochure to someone in sixth grade might not seem important. But planting those seeds early on makes a difference later. And who knows, it might impact those in school now or career switchers."

Perhaps more important is that J&J is helping hospitals to fund more nursing scholarships and teaching grants. "They are putting the tools in our hands to keep a shortage from happening in the future."

There’s another bonus to the program, says Beverly Jones, RN, MPH, FAAN, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. "These materials help remind you of all that brought you into nursing to begin with," she says. "Nurses work extremely hard, and there is a prevailing — and somewhat valid — belief that it is not amply rewarded."

It makes keeping morale up a challenge. But some of the J&J materials are so heartening, says Jones. "We are passing out the video they have of patients talking about nursing to every single nursing unit. It has been a wonderful mechanism to give current nurses a renewed sense of pride in their profession."


Lori Culwell, Consultant, The Campaign for Nursing’s Future, Johnson & Johnson. E-mail: Telephone: (800) 635-6789, ext. 9589.

Marianne Ditomassi, RN, MSN, MBA, Executive Director of Patient Care Services and Operations, Massachusetts General Hospital. Telephone: (617) 724-2164.

Beverly Jones, RN, MPH, FAAN, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services, Henry Ford Health System. Telephone: (313) 916-3373.