Dean’s Message



Photo by Anne Rayner

The School of Nursing’s fall semester is well under way, and it is always an exciting time for our faculty and staff to welcome a large group of very talented students to the school – close to 1,000!

We are pleased to announce the School of Nursing is now the largest professional school at Vanderbilt. Although we have grown, we remain constant in our mission to “value excellence and innovation in preserving and advancing the art and science of nursing in the scholarly domains of education, practice, research and informatics.” These values are pursued through personal interactions and the integration of technology, while embracing cultural and academic diversity.

Our vision is for VUSN to continuously reinvent itself in ways that distinguish the School among its peers, with an unparalleled focus on activities that benefit the community and society at large.

VUSN is responding to calls from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and national nursing organizations such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, to build the academic preparation of advanced practice nurses through the master’s to the doctoral level. The Institute of Medicine has issued a call to double the overall number of nurses with doctorates.

In fall 2008, we initiated the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, as our second doctoral program.  This fall, VUSN launched a new BSN to DNP program, where students earn an MSN degree as part of the program of study.  Those who enter as prespecialty students also have the option to earn their MSN to seamlessly progress to the DNP.  Built upon the School’s internationally recognized advanced practice nursing programs, the DNP program provides an alternative to a research-focused doctorate with a focus on evidence-based practice, quality improvement and systems thinking.

The increasing complexity of the nation’s health care environment requires that advanced practice nurses develop expanded competencies to deliver patient care and provide leadership in complex health care environments based on the latest scientific evidence, use emerging technology and information systems to improve efficacy and evaluate outcomes as well as to implement quality and safety initiatives in small practices and across large health systems.

VUSN will continue to engage in meaningful ways in order to rapidly respond to changing health care environments and an evolving health care system.  In the following pages of Nurse magazine, you will find some exciting examples of our many efforts.


Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD, CNM, FAAN, FACNM
Nancy and Hilliard Travis Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing