I am always pleased to bring you greetings from TCNJ Nursing and tell you about some exciting updates. More specific information is in the Department Newsletter.
To begin with, I would like to share with you one of my goals to re-energize the Nursing Alumni and have future events where alumni can reconnect with the school, the faculty, and former classmates. Currently we are planning to host an alumni reception on December 4, 2013 at around 5:00 p.m. If you have any ideas for this event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you as we remember the past and plan for the future.
Our undergraduates continue to thrive at the College. In May 2013, we graduated 67 BSN students and 10 MSN students. While the recession continues to make finding a first position truly a search, approximately 50% of our graduates now have nursing positions. Preference for baccalaureate graduates and TCNJ’s strong reputation helped, and many students realized that being flexible and maintaining perspective with regard to a first position was a healthy approach. Other graduates chose to move forward with graduate study. Applications for the 2013 freshmen class continued to rise with over 750 applications, up from 620 last year. Also, I am thrilled to report that the first-time NCLEX pass rate for the Class of 2012 was 98%, remaining above the national average and demonstrating the excellence of our programs, faculty and students. Congratulations Class of 2012!
Graduate nursing education at TCNJ remains a priority with Clinical Nurse Leader and Nurse Practitioner tracks. We are also very excited to announce our new MSN in School Nursing and the revised School Nurse Certification programs. Movement to the DNP degree for advanced practice is expected in the near future, so we are completing a collaboration and articulation with Rutgers University.
As always, financial support is greatly appreciated, especially given the state budget reality. Your contributions provide vital support for nursing through scholarships and support for our clinical simulation laboratory and other programs. Aspirations for nursing include a new building, continuing development of the clinical simulation laboratory, global opportunities, interdisciplinary minors and courses, internships, and leadership opportunities that will help students gain insights and experiences as they prepare for their careers as professionals in leading the way toward improving health care delivery and patient outcomes. Being able to support students financially helps to insure more opportunities for our students. We remain committed to offering the highest quality educational experiences and graduating nurses who are ready and willing to assume the professional responsibilities of leadership in all areas of nursing.
Meanwhile, our students continue to broaden their range of experiences at the state, national and international level. In January 2013, ten students volunteered with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) in Santa Anna, Costa Rica. During this time, the students had opportunities to work with other healthcare providers in a clinic, assist patients, give vaccinations, take vital signs, and learn about a new culture. The students also participated in health education seminars for children and families with topics including dental hygiene, nutrition, anatomy, cleanliness, hand washing, and avoidance of unhealthy habits in addition to topics that reflected current community needs. Students reported that this was an excellent experience which further ignited their passion and commitment to community engagement and helped them develop a global perspective.
Two senior Nursing graduates from the Class of 2013 were elected to statewide offices with the New Jersey Student Nurses. Susan Moraca was President of the New Jersey State Student Nurses Association and Alison Lazzaro was Vice President during the 2012-13 academic year. This again demonstrated the leadership skills of our students and the role of TCNJ nursing in the New Jersey nursing community.
The Nursing programs at TCNJ continue to evolve and grow stronger on all levels, BSN and MSN, as we continue to strive for excellence in nursing education. We have great students, expert faculty, and very impressive alumni. Our curriculum continues to be based on the Caring Model, which we believe makes a difference in health care outcomes. While Caring remains central in our curriculum, we are always working to maintain currency and stay at the cutting edge. Most recently, we have incorporated Evidence Based Practice (EBP), end-of-life concepts, genetics and genomics, and Institute of Medicine/QSEN competencies, including patient centered care, informatics, interprofessional collaboration, safety and quality issues.
Faculty members Eileen Alexy and Norma Brown participated in the Health Information Technology Scholars (HITS) Program. The HITS project is designed to develop, implement, disseminate and sustain a faculty development collaborative initiative to integrate information technologies in nursing curriculum and expand the capacity of collegiate schools of nursing to educate students for the 21st century. The focus of their project was using technology to foster cultural awareness, specifically with military families. This is consistent with the school’s participation in “Joining Forces”, a national initiative to support health care for military families.
Other recent accomplishments include participation in the national and statewide initiative for a seamless RN-BSN transition to increase the number of RN’s with a BSN to 80% by 2020; a SANE grant from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice to offer a program to train sexual assault nurse examiners; and the “Volunteer of the Year Award” from the Trenton-Ewing Meals on Wheels for sophomore students’ continuous community engagement in Professor Mitchell’s Wellness course.
We are also very excited and proud to welcome two new full time, tenure-track faculty: Dr. Sharon Byrne and Dr. Connie Kartoz. More information about these new additions to the faculty can be found in the Nursing Newsletter. I believe they will make significant contributions to our programs.
Finally, last spring two important members of our School and academic community moved on to new adventures. Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Dean of the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science for 11 years and Interim Provost of TCNJ from 2011 to 2013, accepted a new position as School of Nursing Dean and Vice President for Nursing Affairs for Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon Additionally, Dr. Leslie Rice, a faculty member in Nursing retired after 27 years of service and moved to Florida. We sincerely thank Dr. Bakewell-Sachs and Dr. Rice for their many years of contributions to Nursing excellence at TCNJ and wish them much happiness and continued success in their new adventures.
Take care and please stay in touch.
Marcia E. Blicharz, Interim Dean