Dean’s Message

Photo by Anne Rayner

There’s never been a better time to be a nurse, in part because there is so much progress in our profession.  That’s why I want to share the new recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that are also closely aligned with the direction of your School.
In 2008, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the IOM launched a two-year initiative to assess and transform the nursing profession. The result is an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing that considered nurses across roles, settings and education levels.  The recommendations center around four key messages presented in the IOM’s The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.

1. Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.  The report offers recommendations for stakeholders including state legislators, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service, and Congress to ensure this.

2. Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression, including transition into higher degree programs. Nurses should also be educated with physicians and other health professionals while students and throughout their careers.

3. Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.  As leaders, nurses must also be accountable for their own contributions to delivering high-quality care and work collaboratively with leaders from other health professions.  Nursing education programs should embed leadership-related competencies throughout.

4. Effective workforce planning and policymaking require better data collection and improved information infrastructure.  The 2010 Affordable Care Act mandates the creation of both a National Health Care Workforce Commission chaired by our own Peter Buerhaus, and a National Center for Workforce Analysis to support this.

So what is VUSN doing regarding the recommendations? Two years ago, we initiated the Doctor of Nursing Practice program as our second doctoral program. This fall, we will launch a new BSN to DNP program to provide seamless degree progression. We continue to develop innovative teaching techniques such as Second Life virtual reality. Informatics, coupled with distance learning, provides the infrastructure for all our degree programs and our faculty practice programs are just exploding!
Our educators are working collaboratively with Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Lipscomb University and Belmont University Schools of Pharmacy and Tennessee State University School of Social Work to launch an innovative pilot program – the Vanderbilt Fellowship in Interprofessional Learning – where students experience longitudinal clinical experiences working in interprofessional teams.
VUSN will continue to engage in meaningful ways in order to rapidly respond to changing health care environments and an evolving health care system.  You will find more information about many of our approaches in the following pages of Vanderbilt Nurse magazine.


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