As nursing profession evolves, college’s structure changes

August 11, 2010 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

The UT College of Nursing has finalized a new organizational structure to better accommodate its growth in students, its increased focus on research, and to match educational delivery to an ever-changing clinical environment. The structure is still pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

“This isn’t about fixing something that was broken,” said Dr. Tim Gaspar, dean of the College of Nursing. “After all, this college has seen tremendous growth over the past decade. It is about adapting to professional nursing education, including a stronger focus on graduate education and research, and the needs of nursing students for years to come as health-care delivery and nursing care undergo dramatic changes.”

The college has established two associate dean positions, one for academic affairs to be filled by Dr. Kay Grothaus, and a second for research and evaluation that has been filled by Dr. Donna Algase.

The college now also will have three departments:

• The Health Promotion, Outcomes, Systems and Policy Department will be led by Dr. Dianne Smolen, who also will lead the college’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program;

• The Acute and Chronic Care Department will be led by Dr. Diane Salvador, who also will lead the Baccalaureate Program; and

• The Population and Community Care Department will be led by Dr. Kelly Phillips, who also will lead the Master’s Program.

“Increasing the number of nursing faculty with a doctorate and the number of our faculty conducting research on care and national policy is central to this college’s leadership in the profession,” Gaspar said, noting that the final two cohorts of UT’s associate’s degree in nursing soon would be graduating.

“The nursing profession is becoming increasingly specialized and calls on nurses to advance their understanding not just of the care they give, but how that care interfaces with that of other health-care professionals.”

Gaspar said the college is preparing for the need for continued education and interprofessional interaction by strengthening the simulation labs already in place at the college. Dr. Martha Sexton will serve as director of Interprofessional Learning and Care.

Additionally, Dr. Deborah Mattin will serve as director of Continuing Nursing Education, an office designed to enhance the ongoing need for continuing education of nurses in the work force to meet professional requirements, including re-certification and re-licensure renewal requirements.

Some of the other changes, particularly in student services, are the result of seeking increased efficiencies. For example, in many instances undergraduate and graduate needs are similar, Gaspar said. “We’ve tried to organize support services by function, not solely by the program a student is in,” he said. Paula Ballmer will lead this area as assistant dean for student services.

“This new structure itself may well need to change five years from now,” Gaspar said. “The profession and health-care delivery systems are changing to serve the care needs of our public.

“I also want to express my profound thanks to Dr. Susan Batten and Dr. Sandra Oehrtman, who are returning to faculty appointments. Also, thanks to Ruth Ankele for her service; Ruth has accepted a new position outside of the college. And perhaps most importantly, thanks to all in the college for the courage to position the UT College of Nursing to rise to a new level of excellence.”

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