by Jon Eichberger
Three top nursing schools—Johns Hopkins University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Duke University—visited southwest Florida in January to mix and mingle with alumni and to present current views about the changing role of nurses in disease prevention and coordination of healthcare.
At networking luncheons in Naples and Tampa, the three deans—Hopkins’ Dr. Martha Hill, Alabama-Birmingham’s Dr. Doreen Harper, and Duke’s Dr. Catherine Gillis—updated alumni on issues facing nurses and nursing schools today. They noted that as baby boomers age and the need for more healthcare providers grows, and as healthcare reform takes shape, it is increasingly important for schools of nursing to prepare nurses to effectively lead and deliver quality healthcare.
Each described their school as thriving by focusing on the ever changing healthcare needs of the populations their graduates serve and by collaborating with alumni who play vital roles in front-line healthcare delivery. Their most effective nursing education programs are those in which students, faculty and alumni work together—sharing critical information and observations that often lead to new partnerships and opportunities—to make communities healthier and provide greater access for patients, from primary to critical care.
“Nurses and nurse educators have an incredible opportunity to address the critical issues that currently face our nation’s healthcare system,” said Hill. “Medical advancements have changed healthcare and made nurses more essential than ever before. People are living longer and are living with chronic illnesses that just a few decades ago would have shortened their life span. More and more, nurses and nurse practitioners are the healthcare professionals caring for these patients.”
The deans also led a panel discussion and a Q&A session during the event. The panels comprised current students and recent graduates from each of the three schools.
James Kelley, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing associate dean for development and alumni relations, said the events were such a success that the School of Nursing plans to hold similar events in the Florida area next winter. He adds, “We have also begun to explore partnering with other peer nursing institutions to offer events around the country. We hope to see alumni at these events, too.”