by Melissa J. Smith
For the past 35 years, the School of Nursing has been building a legacy of excellence. As the school celebrates past and present achievements, the dean is looking ahead to the challenges the school and its students will face, and the paths they’ll take to ensure a bright future for the nursing profession.
When she began as dean of the School of Nursing in January, Robin Froman, Ph.D., was keenly aware that the current nursing shortage would not be solved by simply producing more undergraduate nurses. With classes at maximum capacity, the school is focusing on its graduate degree programs and encouraging its students to pursue further education.
"We encourage our students to pursue graduate education at the Health Science Center and become the nursing faculty of tomorrow. "
Robin Froman, Ph.D.
"We’re starting to shift our attention to master’s students so we can create the nursing faculty and nursing researchers needed to accommodate the number of students who want to go into nursing," Dr. Froman said. "We could easily enroll a third more than the 800 students we already have in our program," she said.
"We encourage our students to pursue graduate education at the Health Science Center and become the nursing faculty of tomorrow. With more nursing faculty available, more undergraduate students can receive their education in nursing," Dr. Froman said.
"We are creating educational alternatives that will attract more students and encourage them to further their education at the Health Science Center," she said.
Dr. Froman said the Web holds the key to educating nurses who cannot attend daytime classes, or who want to attend the Health Science Center but live in different cities. The Health Science Center has seen an increase in recent years of students who move to San Antonio, especially from Austin and Houston, specifically to attend classes in the School of Nursing.
"We’re shifting to the Web to be more responsive and responsible to all our students," Dr. Froman said. "In my past experiences with Web-based courses, I have seen students log into an online class at 1 a.m. When I ask them why, they say that’s when they can attend to classwork, uninterrupted, and get the most from their ‘time in class’," she said.
The school also continues to expand its community and interdisciplinary collaborations. Kelly Dunn, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., associate professor and chair of the department of chronic nursing care, has initiated a program with Air Force Village, a community of retired military personnel, to encourage retirees
to live healthy lifestyles.
Colleen Keller, Ph.D., R.N., professor and chair of the department of family nursing care, has established a program to promote regular walking programs to Hispanic women ages 50 and older in the community. Positive lifestyle changes are vital for women in this age bracket who face the side effects of obesity and diabetes.
Faculty members are also working on several interdisciplinary collaborations. This summer, more than 190 medical students will receive skills lab training under the direction of School of Nursing faculty members. Nancy Girard, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor and chair of the department of acute nursing care, is working with School of Allied Health Sciences’ faculty on interdisciplinary initiatives for courses.
With the school’s reputation of excellence, it’s no wonder U.S. News & World Report ranked the school one of the top in the nation and the school’s master’s program in the top 10 percent in the United States. The school’s graduate programs have garnered national funding and the school is ranked No. 35 in the nation in the amount of funding it receives from the National Institutes of Health.
Under Dr. Froman’s leadership, the school will continue to grow by moving toward the partnerships and technologies of tomorrow.