Founding nursing dean looks to add partnerships in final year

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of Jean Johnson

The School of Nursing’s founding dean announced this month that she will step down next year, now pledging to strengthen the school’s partnerships with other GW schools in her final stretch as dean.

Jean Johnson will leave the school for a year-long sabbatical next year, stating she wants to return to teaching and research after four years of continual growth for GW’s youngest school.

“To continue to grow professionally and personally, I need to step down,” Johnson said in an interview. “I think that after all of these years of experience in a leadership position and in nursing, I believe I have something to share, and I want to share it.”

Kimberly Acquaviva, the school’s director of faculty affairs, said Johnson had planned three years ago to lead the new school off its feet. She said the dean’s goals were to start and grow the school so that a successor could later take over with a larger, more research-focused faculty.

In her final year, Johnson will oversee the start of an executive leadership program with the business school, which will give students the chance to learn finance and business skills that could help them rise to leadership positions in hospitals. While students will be able to join the program this fall, classes will start in January, Johnson said.

She also hopes to strengthen relations with the Elliott School, especially the global public health program, she said, and open chances for undergraduates to study abroad and get a more global view of the field. The two schools have not started to create a program yet, but Johnson said although “we haven’t moved in that direction, it’s one of the programs on my mind.”

The school’s enrollment has grown dramatically since its opening in 2010, rising to more than 600 students in all degree levels. Faculty positions have grown simultaneously, with the school planning to make four new hires by January.

That growth can be attributed to the growing healthcare industry, Johnson said. Up to 40 million people could join the country’s organized health care system, she said, part of the reason she thinks the nurse practitioner program has seen an increase in enrollment in recent years.

“Nurse practitioners are being seen as one of the answers to being able to address the health care needs of the additional population,” she said.

In an effort to attract more disadvantaged students, the school has set aside grant money to help support students financially, as well as to provide mentorship programs. The school is also lobbying to add housing options to the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, where it is housed, to help attract undergraduate students.

This post was updated on Wednesday, June 12 to reflect the following:

Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly paraphrased Kim Acquaviva. She did not say the dean told faculty her plans to step down, she said it was planned was in the school’s original proposal to the Board of Trustees.

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