Patricia M. Davidson
PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN
Dean, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Excerpted from the August 2016 State of the School message
In order for a strategic plan to be successful, it must be reflexive and dynamic in today’s complex world. As you are aware, over the last two years we’ve had a series of in-depth reviews and consultations which have informed our plan. I think we have truly approached our planning from a data-driven perspective. More importantly, I would like thank all of you who have taken the time to give thoughtful comments in the many surveys, meetings and consultation activities.
As I present our five goals, many of them will seem familiar to you. You will see that we have continued to focus on areas that have long distinguished us as a leader and have added new areas to position us for thought leadership, enacting our mission and modeling our values. I would like us to look at this plan with a dynamic lens. (View the State of the School program.)
Interprofessional excellence. While Johns Hopkins nursing is internationally recognized, we heard from all of you that although we have done great work, we can keep pushing the boundaries to make sure we prepare future generations to be the very best they can and shine in health care teams and engage in breakthrough science. This will require all of us to build new relationships and expand our networks so that we can work in interdisciplinary teams to improve not just the quality but value of health care locally and globally. We’re already seeing significant and measurable success in our IPE efforts, bringing medicine, public health, pharmacy, nursing, and other professions together in learning and practice; as well as seeing a surge in interprofessional grant submissions and awards.
We know we still have far to go but we need to ask ourselves, what if our interprofessional strategy doesn’t move the needle enough to make nursing an integrated, equal partner in health care delivery? What if our interprofessional colleagues don’t want to play ball on a grand scale? What if we achieve integration but not equality? These are uncomfortable scenarios to consider but if we don’t, we’ll limit our success and impact.
Our second goal focuses on excellence, something many of you mentioned in your feedback. As we all know, this is a Hopkins and School of Nursing trademark. To model excellence, we must all share ideas and contribute to an environment that fosters creativity and innovation—for faculty AND staff. The word “practice” is key here because it doesn’t just imply nursing practice. It implies “practice” for all of us, whatever we do—marketing, development, business, enrollment management, administrative support. We only get better at what we do when we continue to connect and learn from others, especially when it’s outside our box. Just as we do for our students, we need to help each other perform at our highest level.
As we face a serious nursing faculty shortage, a surge of retirements and high staff turnover nationally, we have a lot of work to do. And we don’t have five years to figure this out. We need to develop an organizational structure and processes that develop a strong and qualified pipeline of employees, both faculty and staff. And since we are well-positioned in the marketplace and financially secure, we need to leverage our assets and simply make this happen. Once again, it will require a new way of thinking.
On to our next goal, diversity and inclusion. If we really want to move the needle, it will take a new approach and a commitment from all of us, together, to promote open dialogue and model our values of respect and accountability. No one person or a handful of people will be able to change our culture or the world. And history has taught us that the way we’ve been conducting business in the past isn’t an option anymore. So we need to look at other scenarios—new models, new ways of thinking, and new ways of talking, listening, and learning. Over the past year, we’ve taken care of the low-hanging fruit and now the really hard work begins.
Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee has already begun to question some accepted norms and trends and are asking a lot of “What ifs.” How exciting to move from “same old, same old” documentation of the problem to a solution stage, and we look forward to the leadership of Dr. Cynda Rushton and Megan Barrett, director of Student Affairs, who are co-chairing the committee.
Many of you noted how our emphasis on community and global has become synonymous with Johns Hopkins Nursing. I worked with the leadership team to create a goal that will challenges us to dedicate ourselves to innovation, capacity, and sustainability in all community and global projects in which we engage. As we all know, our commitment to Baltimore and community health is deep and is core to our mission. The Affordable Care Act has changed the landscape and many of the services we once provided for free are now covered, if we can get people into the system and convince them to use it. To move forward, we need to reassess and realign our operational strategy with our mission and determine how best we can serve the community. Poor people do not deserve second-rate health care.
And, last but not least, space that inspires. Recently, the University conducted its first PhD Enrolled Doctoral Study. As you know, we performed exceptionally well, leading all Hopkins schools in many categories of the survey and, ultimately, second place overall. Most importantly, we are the most diverse PhD program in the University.The biggest area of weakness identified in the survey was our physical workspace and facilities.
We want to think beyond just more and nicer offices and meeting rooms to the future and its possibilities. The goal is to build a hub on the East Baltimore campus, for faculty, staff, and students from a range of disciplines, a beacon of collaboration not just for our school but the community.
We need to act NOW to create a new model for space and new ways to work together. We are hopeful our building request will go before the Board of Trustees in October so we can really move forward on our building plan. We’ll keep you posted.