Enrollment in the long-awaited School of Nursing moderately increased for the program’s second year, furthering a positive outlook for the developing school.
In 2010, 138 of 343 applicants to graduate programs within the school ultimately enrolled. In 2011, 158 of 243 applicants enrolled, as the school increased the number of spots available.
Undergraduate applications jumped significantly, with students enrolled for 2011 nearly doubling from the program’s first year. In 2010, 249 undergraduate applications were received and 42 students enrolled, while in 2011, 332 applied. For the fall, 82 are enrolled.
Jean Johnson, who now serves as the school’s dean, and Ellen Dawson, the current senior associate dean, established the School of Nursing in 2010, nearly 80 years after the first GW nursing school was forced to shut its doors during the Great Depression.
Now, after the school’s first graduating class officially received degrees in May, Johnson and Dawson agree their hard work has paid off.
“It’s been an amazing year. We have had so much support from so many people from people across the University.as we really work to increase our impact on the health of our communities, this is going to be increasingly important,” Johnson said.
The school was founded on the Virginia Campus in 2010, after Johnson and faculty members petitioned intensely.
Nursing shortages in Virginia and across the country made the school’s inception more urgent, Johnson said.
She said she believed a full-fledged school would allow GW to help alleviate the scarcity by teaching future nursing professionals.
“The time was right. There was a lot of publicity about the shortage in nursing at the time. We knew we wanted to recruit faculty and really needed to build our research agenda, but we weren’t going to get this and get the top funders without becoming a school,” Dawson said.
Johnson said she is especially pleased with the level of interest in the bachelor’s degree program. The program was offered only as a second degree when the nursing department was within the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“We are pretty much on the trajectory of where we wanted to be after one year – we need to grow the programs. We have some really amazing faculty recruitment moving forward, and we need to get some really solid researchers in place,” Johnson said.
Dawson said faculty members – who were instrumental in the school’s establishment – made the first year a success.
“The University needed to make the commitment that this was here to stay, and since then there has been an outpouring of support. It has been a whirlwind year for us, and the faculty have embraced this. They have written bylaws, criteria – they truly are really excited to be a part of this school,” she said.
Both Johnson and Dawson said they are grateful for the support of the Virginia nursing community. They plan to enhance their role in rural nursing programs and clinics in the state.
“We really have a strong community focus and commitment. We wouldn’t have a nursing program if it weren’t for Virginia and our clinical partners. A lot of different sites are really important to us,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there are set enrollment caps for the next few years, but she plans to continue to expand degree programs “to the extent it makes sense.”
“We’re hoping to be one of the premier schools for nursing in the country. We got a pretty good start in terms of where we are, there is some substance to the rankings, and we want to have the best programs,” Johnson said. “We want to expand internationally and offer all our students an international health experience and research and carve the GW name around patient treatment and equality.”
This article appeared in the June 13, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.