Dean’s Message

Dear alumni, colleagues and supporters,

Dean Linda Norman

Photo by Daniel Dubois

How do you define a community? Is it the people you interact with day to day? Is it your physical building or the neighborhoods surrounding the place you live and work? Is it a town, a city, a region or even a state? The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing defines its community as all of those — and as those we educate, care for and serve.

When we decided we wanted to take a thorough look at all the people, places and ways that Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is involved in helping and supporting our community, we were awed. Our students, faculty, staff and alumni are involved in so many organizations that it is difficult to identify them all. As you’ll see, the School of Nursing’s reach extends beyond the classroom and clinical sites.

Rather than overwhelm you with volume, we decided to focus on the top four health care needs in Middle Tennessee as determined by the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment carried out by our partner, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Those needs were identified by stakeholders across the region to be: access to care/coordination of care; mental and emotional health/substance abuse; social determinants; and wellness and disease prevention.

Our cover article, “Community Care,” spotlights four individual cases of how the students, faculty and alumni of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing are contributing solutions and service in meeting those four key needs. You’ll also learn about an innovative program run by two VUSN faculty designed to increase our students’ (and faculty’s) understanding of how social determinants like poverty can impact patient health.

You’ll find other examples of community interaction woven throughout the rest of this issue. It will also introduce you to our new senior associate dean for research, Mariann Piano, who sketches her direction for the research and scholarship function of the school. This issue also contains “Making an Impact,” our annual report on scholarly activity, grants, awards and new faculty.

Finally, you’ll also see an update on the construction of our new building, which will open this fall. It’s an exciting time to be at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing — I look forward to telling you more about our new building in the next issue.

Linda Norman, DSN, RN, FAAN
Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing
Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing