Message from the Dean

Dear alumni, colleagues and supporters,

In my first year at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, I made it a priority to meet the leaders of health systems in the area and explore how we could help them in their missions. In every discussion, I was told that Vanderbilt advanced practice nurses were great hires, well-educated, knowledgeable and able to hit the floor running. The problem, I was told, was that the hospitals and systems were still in great need of registered nurses. Was there something Vanderbilt could do to help with the shortage of registered nurses?

Back on campus, we started investigating the possibility of VUSN starting a master’s level registered nursing program. Within eight months, we had determined resources, created curriculum, received Vanderbilt Board of Trust approval, and from there, approval by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Our master of nursing program was on its way. You can find the full story here and meet some of the first students in the program.

Another need in the nursing profession is for leaders from diverse backgrounds in both nursing schools and health care enterprises. A diverse nursing workforce needs diverse leadership. The challenge of recruiting and retaining leaders from groups underrepresented in nursing is a concern for nursing organizations as well as for academic and health care leaders. In response, in November 2022, VUSN and Vanderbilt University Medical Center welcomed 18 fellows to an innovative professional development program, the Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders. Created and led by VUSN Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Rolanda Johnson, PhD’98, and VUMC Senior Director for Nurse Diversity and Inclusion Mamie Williams, PhD, the academy succeeded on every level in equipping diverse leaders with specific knowledge, tools and connections that will help them grow and advance. Read the story and you’ll understand why participants called the academy “life-changing.”

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll meet another Vanderbilt alumnus who helped make that academy happen. Leslie Jeter, BSN’86, believed in the academy’s value and provided funding for academy participants. A certified registered nurse anesthetist, Leslie credits Vanderbilt in helping make her who she is today.

This issue also has a strong research focus. In addition to research news and a look at our postdoctoral program, it includes our annual Making an Impact report. The report contains new faculty bios, information on current grants and funding, and a list of faculty and student publications, awards, editorships and memberships. The breadth of their accomplishments is remarkable.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out our most recent good news. In late April, we received the news that Vanderbilt’s master of science in nursing program had risen to its highest ranking ever in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Nursing Schools. It is now the No. 6 program in the country! Our doctor of nursing practice was ranked No. 13, and we have six programs within the top 3 in their specialties, including a No. 1 rank for our pediatric nurse practitioner–primary and No. 1 for our administrative DNP degree. This is an outstanding accomplishment for the school and all who have worked to make it a top program. See the full details on p. 45.

As I write this, we are starting the summer semester and also preparing for Commencement. We have had an impactful spring, with great strides made in major initiatives and groundwork laid for others that I look forward to sharing with you in a future issue. As always, thank you for your support of the School of Nursing. I hope you have a wonderful summer.   


Pamela R. Jeffries, PhD, FAAN, ANEF, FSSH
Valere Potter Distinguished Professor of Nursing

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Dean's Letter Summer 2023