Dean Outlines Vision

January 29, 2008 - “It is almost more competitive now to get into nursing school than it is to get into law school or medical school,” said University of Louisville School of Nursing Dean Marcia Hern.

“We turned away 75 highly qualified applicants who we could have easily brought into our classrooms and in clinical if we only had more faculty,” Hern noted during her speech to faculty, alumni and community nursing leaders.

Dean Hern called upon hospital leaders to help create solutions to the problem by giving the school loaned faculty or creating another type of joint teaching opportunity.  

The new School of Nursing leader joined UofL less than a year ago. She previously served as the Dean of Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing.

As part of the school’s strategic plan, Hern talked about the need to bolster focus on research.

“We are on a research university, therefore our nursing science must drive what we’re about,” said Hern.

Hern said faculty members have worked hard to secure research funding, with over 4-million-dollars in grant requests submitted just this academic year.

The research focus also means a revision of the undergraduate curriculum. The Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) program now includes an overarching framework of evidence-based practice. Undergraduate students will now look more closely at data all four semesters to analyze the evidence that supports their studies and practice.

The Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) program has also been reshaped, and the PhD program is moving ahead. The school began offering a PhD program in 2005.

Student Pamela Combs recently became the first student to successfully complete her comprehensive exams. She’s now working on a dissertation.

The UofL School of Nursing Dean also discussed plans to update the school’s building located on the university’s Health Sciences Campus. Renovation goals include new carpet, new lab equipment and a new auditorium with occupancy of the fourth floor for development of the SON research enterprise.

Developing more high-tech learning opportunities is also part of the plan. The school hopes to create a state-of-the-art clinical lab with more high-fidelity simulation mannequins than the existing one for some 250 undergraduate nursing students.    

“It’s important that our students learn on the best technology,” she said.

The faculty also contribute greatly to the community through practice initiatives such as the Harambee Nursing Center, the Race Track Clinic and the Volunteer Caregivers Program.
As the School of Nursing leader, Hern said she’s committed to finding ways to make the school’s dreams a reality, with all the help of the faculty, staff, alumni and community health care leaders.