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Fifty years of excellence

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November 04, 2013

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University leaders, students, faculty, staff, alumni, corporate partners and friends celebrated the 50th anniversary of Northeastern's School of Nursing on Saturday night.

The School of Nursing in Northeastern’s Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences cel­e­brated five decades of excel­lence in teaching and schol­ar­ship at a 50th anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion Sat­urday night. More than 400 alumni, fac­ulty, stu­dents, uni­ver­sity leaders, com­mu­nity part­ners, and other dis­tin­guished health­care pro­fes­sionals attended the event.

Throughout the evening, speakers and video trib­utes high­lighted the school’s his­tor­ical achieve­ments and looked ahead to its bright future. Carole Kenner, the school’s dean and an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized leader in neonatal care, lauded the many accom­plish­ments of the school’s alumni and thanked fac­ulty for their com­mit­ment to teaching, research, and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion, all of which is inspiring the next gen­er­a­tion of nursing pro­fes­sionals. She made spe­cial note of the 50th Anniver­sary School of Nursing Ambas­sadors, a dis­tin­guished group of alumni, par­ents, and friends who have com­mitted their time, talent, and trea­sure to the school’s future.

“(This event) is really a tribute to all of you who are com­mitted to nursing and to health pro­fes­sions’ edu­ca­tion,” said Kenner, who received an award for her lead­er­ship as dean, a role from which she will step down in Jan­uary. She will remain a member of the fac­ulty pur­suing her research and teaching.

The evolving needs for health­care on a global level and impor­tance of inter­pro­fes­sional col­lab­o­ra­tion served as common themes throughout the evening. As Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, put it, today “we are in the midst of enor­mous change in the health­care delivery system, and nursing has never been more central.”

Afaf I. Meleis, an Egyptian-​​born and inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized health­care scholar who is the Mar­garet Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­vania, struck a sim­ilar chord in her keynote address. Meleis said health­care pro­fes­sionals, com­mu­nity part­ners, gov­ern­ment, industry, and other stake­holders can together make the world a healthier place. But for this change to occur, she said, stu­dents must be pre­pared to become the health­care leaders of tomorrow, and she urged those in atten­dance to meet this challenge.

In this “golden moment for nursing,” Meleis said North­eastern is well-​​positioned to con­tribute to the trans­for­ma­tion needed in health­care. She pointed to the university’s com­mit­ment to community-​​based edu­ca­tion and research as well as its edu­ca­tion model, which com­bines class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence through co-​​op.

“You are giving your stu­dents mean­ingful and enriching edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ences to enable and empower them to make a pos­i­tive impact on the com­mu­ni­ties where they’re going to be working and pro­viding them with the right clin­ical judg­ment that will change the world,” Meleis said.

Meleis said the most impor­tant rev­o­lu­tion hap­pening in the world today is the fight for the right to quality and equi­table care for all. Unfor­tu­nately, she said, much work remains to achieve this goal. For example, about 800 women die each day during child­birth from pre­ventable causes. More­over, maternal mor­tality rates in devel­oping regions are 15 times higher than in devel­oped coun­tries because of the lack of access to skilled health pro­fes­sionals. As a result, she said it’s essen­tial that today’s stu­dents under­stand the many health inequities that per­sist in America and across the globe.

“We should not grad­uate any stu­dent who does not fully rec­og­nize inequities and who is not well pre­pared to deal with them,” she said. “We should not grad­uate a stu­dent who doesn’t have the pas­sion to pro­vide just and equi­table care.”

The School of Nursing’s rich his­tory began in 1963 when Northeastern’s Board of Trustees approved a new col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram for aspiring nurses between North­eastern and two Boston hos­pi­tals: Beth Israel and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital. The for­merly known Col­lege of Nursing opened a year later.

Fulmer said that America’s health­care system has changed dra­mat­i­cally since 1963, noting the fact that Medicare and Med­icaid had yet to be estab­lished. She pointed to Bouvé’s newly ded­i­cated Arnold S. Gold­stein Sim­u­la­tion Lab­o­ra­to­ries Suites as an example of the type of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary, team-​​based approach to health­care that will be increas­ingly impor­tant in the 21st cen­tury. She cred­ited School of Nursing fac­ulty with leading the charge to estab­lish the cutting-​​edge lab­o­ra­tory, where stu­dents can receive hands-​​on health­care instruction.

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, said the School of Nursing and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences have demon­strated a long­standing com­mit­ment to two cen­tral com­po­nents at the heart of the university’s mis­sion: expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion and pur­suing use-​​inspired research.

“One of our major research themes across the uni­ver­sity is health, and this school and this col­lege play a cen­tral role in that,” Director said.

Along with Kenner, three others received awards at the event. Jeanette Ives Erikson, chief nurse and senior vice pres­i­dent for patient care ser­vices at the Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital, received the Dis­tin­guished Health­care Pro­fes­sional Award; Jane Aroian, asso­ciate pro­fessor and coor­di­nator of the school’s BSN to MS pro­gram who holds a doc­torate in edu­ca­tion from North­eastern, received the Dis­tin­guished Fac­ulty Award; and Sharon Gale, CEO of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Nurse Leaders of Mass­a­chu­setts and Rhode Island who holds a bach­elor of sci­ence and asso­ciate degree of nursing from North­eastern, received the Dis­tin­guished Alumna Award.

The legacy of this impor­tant moment in the school’s his­tory is the newly cre­ated School of Nursing 50th Anniver­sary Endowed Schol­ar­ship for future gen­er­a­tions of nursing stu­dents. Alumni, par­ents, and friends inter­ested in making a dona­tion to the schol­ar­ship or more infor­ma­tion should con­tact Noël Appel, asso­ciate dean of devel­op­ment in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, at m.​appel@​neu.​edu or by phone at 617–373-2637.

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