Dean’s Message

Photo by Anne Rayner

This year we have seen the historic passage and signing of health finance reform legislation into law. Now, our focus must shift toward the continuum of care, population health and disease management.

The expectation for continuity of care across service delivery settings has gained momentum with consumers, payers, and providers as a means of increasing effectiveness and efficiencies. This serves as an impetus for monitoring, evaluation and performance improvement based on data that instructs the business, practice, education and research of health care delivery.

After months of heated debate, no one questions that continued change is on the horizon for the financing and provision of care in the presence of an increasing number of patients and an aging population complicated by a projected shortage of physicians in a variety of specialties as well as nurses. Many of these changes will position nursing to play a pivotal role in leadership, research and health care delivery.

The new focus will be on nurse-led care delivery systems and harnessing the economic power of nursing. To be successful, our graduates must be able to lead complex health care delivery systems and understand their economics. Nurses of today are technologically savvy, critical thinkers who coordinate care across a broad spectrum of health care and understand the economies of health care delivery.

Our health care system needs exceptional nurses who are capable of developing creative strategic plans to lead the evolving health care system.  Innovative use of information technology, systems and nursing research coupled with new fields of inquiry, such as genetics and telehealth, offer opportunities to create practice environments not previously possible. Our nursing research and informatics agenda will be critical in supporting our desire to be driven by evidence-based practice models which support patient safety and quality outcomes.

A time of great change and challenge is also a time of great danger as well as opportunities for innovation. Entrepreneurial opportunities abound.

In this issue of Vanderbilt Nurse, we share some unique examples of our own nursing alumni and their entrepreneurial achievements.  We look at the ultimate entrepreneur of nursing – Florence Nightingale – who pioneered the profession, and we learn more about the often unsung, yet important, world of pediatric palliative care. Additionally, I’m pleased to share our special cumulative report section of Vanderbilt Nurse, which is a snapshot of what we have been able to accomplish together during the last five years.

I hope you enjoy learning more about the innovative work being done by our faculty and amazing personal stories of some of our nursing alumni.  I am excited and enthusiastic about the future role of nursing in today’s evolving health care environment. Looking through these pages, you can see why.


Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., C.N.M., F.A.A.N., F.A.C.N.M.
Nancy and Hilliard Travis Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing