UCSF School of Nursing Rallies for the Future

By Elizabeth Fernandez on September 21, 2011

For two days, the UCSF School of Nursing faculty and staff pondered its long term future, sketching the beginnings of an ambitious blueprint to guide the nursing program over the next five years.   

UCSF School of Nursing rally

Dean David Vlahov speaks to facutly and staff at the UCSF School of Nursing rally in San Francisco.

“What do we want to look like?’’ said Dean David Vlahov, RN, PhD, during the faculty workshop he called a “rally’’ and advertised via YouTube videos. “And how do we get there?’’

The School of Nursing is updating its strategic vision for education, research and service amid a changing landscape within the industry shaped by health reform and an Institute of Medicine report last year about the future roles of nurses. On the front lines of patient care, the nursing profession with more than 3 million members is the largest segment of this country’s health care workforce.

“We have an opportunity to move forward to make a big difference,’’ Vlahov said at the workshop, attended by approximately 100 people including 75 faculty members.   

Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, kicked off the rally by detailing a new, three-year action plan for the campus being finalized in coming months that will provide a platform for the nursing school’s new strategic plan. Offering “a giant bite of strategy,’’ Desmond-Hellmann said she wants UCSF to be a mecca of innovation, to build on a tradition of public service, and to continue to forge partnerships with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries while at the same time enhancing its trio of priorities: patient care, research and education.

Touting the collaborative spirit of the campus, Desmond-Hellmann said that great institutions rise to meet the challenge of societal adversity.

“The best thing about UCSF is the passion that people have for the mission,’’ she said. “I’m so proud of the institution as a whole.’’

During the workshop, Chief Nursing Officer Sheila Antrum, RN, director of nursing and patient care services at UCSF Medical Center, drew on her own experiences – she has worked as a floor nurse and intensive care nurse at leading hospitals including Johns Hopkins and the Yale University Medical Center. She joined the UCSF Medical Center in 1986 as a clinical nurse in the coronary care unit.

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Dean David Vlahov

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann addresses the crowd at the UCSF School of Nursing retreat while Dean David Vlahov listens.

Nurses, she said, are indomitable and multi-talented. “We can do it all,’’ she said.

The School of Nursing’s new mission plan, to be fine-tuned over the next month, is being built around four primary areas:

  • Symptom Management: how to manage issues like pain;
  • Interface: how nurses can serve as the connection between technology and patient;
  • Transitions: how to ease the path for patients from the hospital to home and prevent re-hospitalization;
  • Prevention and public health: how to have an impact on health at the community level.

Special guest speaker Joan Shaver, PhD, RN, professor and dean of the University of Arizona College of Nursing, described an emerging model of comprehensive care that has nursing at its core. Comprehensive care needs to be scaled up with more visible nurse leadership, she said.

“We need to serve more than the underserved,’’ she said. “We need to relentlessly influence policy…There is a perception that nurses are functional doers rather than thoughtful strategists.’’

Shaver challenged audience members to determine if they want to be “front runners’’ — improving the status quo — or “edge runners’’ — creating new frontiers. 

“We have to push hard and we have to be willing to help reshape how people see us,’’ she said. “You have the opportunity today to dream about this. I urge us to think about what we do now, to dream about the best.’’

A group from the UCSF School of Nursing

A group from the UCSF School of Nursing participate in the retreat to discuss the future of the nursing profession.

Photo by Elisabeth Fall/fallfoto.com