Nursing department may form separate school

The department of nursing education may be separated from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and potentially form a new school by July 2011, a University official said on Monday.

Jean Johnson, senior associate dean for health sciences, said “the strong and developed” nursing program is well prepared to make the transition.

In November, plans to separate the Department of Health Sciences from the medical school were confirmed by Johnson, but those plans have evolved, she said, to create a school of nursing instead of a school of health sciences.

If put in place, the separation is expected to attract distinguished research faculty and potential donors to the nursing program, Johnson said.

“We would have a better opportunity for partnering and doing international work,” she said, adding these opportunities could encourage an even more global perspective among nursing programs.

Johnson said the University’s medical faculty supports the idea of a school of nursing, and the School Formation Committee will make its proposal to the Board of Trustees in May.

Earlier this month, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released a study calling for the radical transformation of nursing in the United States.

“The profession of nursing in the United States is at a significant moment. It must contend with enormous pressures, from the chaotic health care system and the economic forces that drive it to profound changes in science, technology and patient activism,” the study says. “These demands, combined with ongoing shortages in the ranks of nurses and shifts in the nature and settings of nursing practice, have an impact on the profession’s ability to uphold and transmit its core values.”

While the current program tends to attract about the same number of nursing students as schools with similar programs, like Duke University, Johnson hopes the potentially new nursing school will increase enrollment by attracting the “best and the brightest.”

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