School of Nursing welcomes two new associate deans
Two new members joined the Office of the Dean at the School of Nursing this month. Dr. Carrie Braden is associate dean for research and director of doctoral studies, and Dr. Carol Binzer has assumed the duties of associate dean for student affairs.
Dr. Braden came to the Health Science Center from the University of Arizona at Tucson, where she was a senior faculty member. A family nurse practitioner with a post-master’s primary care specialist degree, Dr. Braden received her community health master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of Arizona.
As associate dean for research and director of doctoral studies, she will mentor students and faculty involved in research projects and help with proposal writing. Her intent is to "facilitate the building of a community of scholars both within this school and across the campus," she said.
Dr. Braden intends to continue her own research as well. For the past several years, she has focused on learned response to chronic illness.
Every person has "levels of resourcefulness" he or she can count on, Dr. Braden explained, such as problem-solving skills and the ability to view life events in a non-negative way. When a person experiences a chronic illness and all the changes that entails, he or she relearns how to use those resources in the new situation.
As principal investigator on the Self-Help Intervention Project (SHIP) at Arizona, Dr. Braden developed self-help courses and telephone-delivered interventions in which breast-cancer patients were taught how to strengthen their problem-solving skills to deal with such issues as hair loss and diminished self-esteem.
"People are very good at learning these things," Dr. Braden said. "We open the door and show them what’s there. They choose what rooms to enter and explore further."
In line with her current focus, Dr. Braden would like to further explore the mind-body connection in dealing with chronic illness.
Dr. Carol Binzer has considerable experience in the area of student services, but she is not a nurse, she says with a smile.
Before joining the Health Science Center, Dr. Binzer was director of the Office of Admissions and Student Services at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill School of Nursing. She received an undergraduate business degree from William & Mary, her Master of Science in Education in college student development from Alfred University in New York, and her Ph.D. in adult and higher education from UNC-Chapel Hill.
She envisions a two-pronged role for herself as associate dean for student affairs—as recruiter and student advocate. In the recruiting role, she said, "I will be responsible for oversight and planning. We want to learn how we can help qualified students to overcome barriers and get their nursing degrees."
As an advocate for students, she wants to help make the educational experience easier for today’s students. "Most often today," she said, "students are having to juggle work, family and school, and an increasing number will take longer to earn their degrees because they must attend part time. There are things we can do to assist them."
Dr. Binzer emphasizes the need for students at distance-learning sites throughout Texas and here in San Antonio, at Palo Alto College, to identify with the School of Nursing’s program and feel as though they are a part of the Health Science Center.
Dr. Binzer’s focus during her doctoral training was on strategic planning, and she plans to expand on her skills in her current position, attracting students, educating them, and encouraging some of them to consider careers in teaching.
"There is an enormous shortage of nurses right now. We need to get the word out that a nurse can assume many, many roles these days. A nurse doesn’t always have to be at a hospital patient’s bedside," she said.