We Are the Change: Welcome to a New Semester

Dean of the UT Austin School of Nursing

Dean Alexa Stuifbergen

It’s been said: Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one. Well, we’ve made quite a few since my last blog. It’s been a very busy and productive time. We’ve changed physically and have launched some great new programs and services that I know will enhance your learning experience.

Just a few months ago, we celebrated the graduation of 139 graduate and undergraduate nursing students, and here we are today, about to launch a new semester by welcoming beginning and returning scholars. But there’s a lot more news, so I’ll get right to it.

First of all, I am pleased to announce that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has approved our application for a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program. As a result, after several years of planning and preparation, the School of Nursing will now offer this professional doctoral program designed to prepare graduates for today’s increasingly complex health care practice and clinical leadership roles. Click here to learn more about the UT Austin School of Nursing’s DNP Program.

The degree program will begin January 2016 and will complement the current professional practice doctoral programs at UT Austin, such as the Pharm.D. and soon-to-be-offered M.D.

Professor Jane Champion is director of the program and will be joined by a strong cadre of tenured and clinical faculty in research and education efforts. As a result, I’m confident our DNP program will help meet the demand for more nurses who are able to provide leadership at the highest levels of health care in Central Texas and across the state.

Just in time for the fall semester, the simulation and skills labs have been transformed into a source of even greater learning opportunities, partly as a result of new grant funding and partly to accommodate the School’s commitment to inter-professional education.

The grants include $150,000 from the THECB under the Nursing Innovation Grant Program: Building Lab and Simulation Capacity, and a $50,000 curriculum innovation award from UT Austin to develop and launch “Integrated Simulated Nursing Skills Mastery Using Video Peer-to-Peer Team Review,” a video-based project designed to increase the amount of time undergraduates can practice clinical skills.

Another goal of the update was to ramp up to meet the demands of providing inter-professional education — including nursing, pharmacy, social work and medicine — in a simulated setting. A major part of the overall renovation was supported by the Dell Medical School, which allowed for the enlargement of the simulation lab patient bays to make room for the added disciplines. This included adding a pharmacy area and debriefing rooms as well as purchasing new mannikins, beds and defibrillators.

The lab was designed to include national best practices of inter-professional simulation education, making it one of the finest simulation labs in the country.

We’re now offering new and improved career services featuring an expanded offering of workshops, employer information sessions, guest speakers, career events, job postings and a career services blog. Also included are two new powerful systems: one to facilitate interview sign-ups, career activities and on-campus recruiting; a second to coordinate appointments for career advising, mock interviews, and resume and cover letter reviews.

A new webpage is being developed and will provide current career services information and links for easy access to Nursing Career Services resources. In addition, students can reserve an office in the School of Nursing’s Career Services Center to be used for phone interviews with employers. For more information, please contact Carol Riazzi at criazzi@nursing.utexas.edu or 512-471-8563; or Sherry Reddick at sreddick@nursing.utexas.edu or 512-232-4777.

construction cranes over the UT Austin School of Nursing

In the beginning: construction of the UT Austin medical district

This time last year we were surrounded by dirt and dust and machinery with very little progress to show for it. Now the medical district is rising to new heights every day, and we’re beginning to think — hope! — that an end to the construction is in sight. Our soon-to-be neighbors the UT Austin Dell Medical School and Seton’s new teaching hospital are closer to completion. Red River Street will open soon — promise! — so it will no longer require a valiant effort to gain access to the School of Nursing’s front door.

construction of UT Austin medical center

The new medical district takes shape

In the midst of this changing landscape, the School of Nursing continues to grow, improve and find new and better ways of providing the best quality nursing education to our students and public health care to our community.

So, welcome back to a place where change happens and is embraced. We hope you are returning refreshed and ready to bring your own renewed sense of enthusiasm and curiosity to your nursing courses. It’s a new day, a new semester. Let’s explore the possibilities together.

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