Fairfield University's School of Nursing receives $200,000 grant for initiative to produce nurse leaders to be architects of change


Image: NursesWith healthcare reform underway, America needs nurse leaders with top-notch business and communication skills to manage busy healthcare teams and Fairfield University is prepared to meet this demand, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Kanarek Family Foundation and the extraordinary commitment of Robin Kanarek, Class of 1996, chair of the School of Nursing Advisory Board and president of the Kanarek Family Foundation.

The funds will help launch a revised innovative master's of science in nursing program based on an inter-professional educational model aimed at producing nurses with skills in system management, business, information technology and communication.

"This endeavor will help educate those nurse leaders in this rapidly changing environment of healthcare reform," said Lynn Babington, Ph.D., RN, professor and dean of Fairfield's School of Nursing. "The healthcare system needs nursing leaders who will change the face of health care. Nurses will be architects for change by providing critical leadership with greater emphasis on prevention and universal access to cost effective, culturally appropriate, high quality care."

The project, "Innovation in the Masters of Science in Nursing Program: A Global Approach," will expand academic collaborations with internal partners within the University: the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, the School of Engineering, the College of Arts and Science and the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions. At the same time, it will also expand collaborations with external partners, including the VA Connecticut Health Care, Ascension Health, Stamford Health System and Western Connecticut Health Network for inter-professional clinical leadership opportunities. Ultimately, this work will establish the Fairfield University master's of science in nursing curriculum as a pilot program for similarly sized Jesuit and non-Jesuit academic institutions to partner with healthcare organizations.

"The resulting curricula will provide students with the opportunity to develop skills and competencies in both clinical and non-clinical areas, and it will be supported through experiential learning opportunities and a rigorous immersion experience," Dr. Babington added.

Moving toward an inter-professional model of health professional education that will result in health care improvement is the foundation of the curricular redesign.

"The Kanarek Family Foundation is pleased to be a part of the ground breaking transition the School of Nursing is providing for a Masters of Science in Nursing with an emphasis on enhanced interdisciplinary opportunities," said Robin Kanarek, a member of the School of Nursing's Class of 1996. "With the rapid changes unfolding due to healthcare reform, nursing is positioned at the forefront to take on an important leadership role. Under the expert leadership of Drs. Sally Gerard and Meredith Kazer and working in collaboration with the Dean, Dr. Lynn Babington, this work will unfold over the next two years. This project will prepare nurses for the tremendous opportunities in healthcare and at all levels."

The overall goal is to build on the School of Nursing's previous successes to revise the master's of nursing (MSN) curriculum, an endeavor that may serve as an international model to implement recommendations of the recent Institute of Medicine's report on the "Future of Nursing." Those recommendations include expanding opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts and preparing nurses to lead change to advance healthcare. This work will be informed by the Institute of Medicine's "Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education: Health Professional Education Innovation Collaborative," and it will build on a relationship with Fairfield alumnus Dr. Patrick Kelley '76, P'12, a School of Nursing Advisory Board member who is director of the Board on Global Health, Institute of Medicine.

Fairfield is the inheritor of an almost 500-year-old pedagogical tradition that has always stressed that the purpose of an education is to develop students as "whole persons" - in mind, body, and in spirit. For more information about the School of Nursing, visit www.fairfield.edu/son/.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 21, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 28