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Even throughout the many challenges of 2020, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has thrived and continued to make a difference to students, patients, individuals, and communities locally and around the world.

A year ago we never would have imagined the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on lives across the globe. But, throughout the experience, we have grown as a community. We are grateful to our colleague, Dr. Deborah Baker, Vice President for Nursing of the Johns Hopkins Health system, for ensuring that our students continued their clinical experiences in the Johns Hopkins Hospitals for nearly the entire pandemic. Many of our faculty led clinical groups in the hospitals and in the School of Nursing labs with only the briefest pause. Students witnessed the impact of courageous nursing leadership that they will be describing for the rest of their careers. We are now setting our sights on to how nursing and our school are going to lead our nation and world to healthier and more equitable days ahead.  

One of the bright spots of the last year has been witnessing the construction of our new School of Nursing building and the transformation of our home into an open, collaborative, and beautiful space where our students, faculty, and staff can learn and work. As we return to the building in the coming months, this space will welcome us back and so wonderfully reflect our vision to be community driven, innovative, integrated, and cutting edge in all that we do.

We are also looking forward to the ways in which our teaching and learning will continue to expand through state-of-the-art technology. Even before the pandemic, Dr. Kristen Brown, Advanced Practice Simulation Coordinator, added transformational technologies of virtual reality and augmented reality to student immersive experiences in simulation learning. It’s been remarkable how quickly and efficiently we integrated this technology into our curriculum, and it speaks to the many opportunities nursing has to lead in using these and other technologies such as robotics and telehealth to advance quality and access to care.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons we have learned because of COVID-19 is the interconnectedness of our world. From health care to economies to digital innovation, we stand in solidarity with our nursing colleagues in many nations. As the largest health profession globally, we have a responsibility to understand the barriers to health, the social determinants of health, and how social and racial injustices impact the most marginalized among us. Nurses have always focused on patients from a holistic perspective, and it’s what makes our profession the most trusted. At the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount, and they are the values in which we operate and what makes our work as nurses translate to all people.

Finally, as the No. 1 ranked School of Nursing for NIH funding in 2020, it remains our mission to conduct research that addresses the most pressing health care issues. There are so many ways in which nurses contribute to research through science, discovery, and implementation. We know that our role in this area helps us to generate knowledge that will eventually inform policy and our practice.

As we continue to fight this pandemic through the distribution of vaccines, we remain hopeful for the way in which nurses will continue to lead the way. Today, there is much for which we can be grateful and much to look forward to in the future.

Marie Nolan, PHD, MPH, RN, FAAN
Professor and Executive Vice Dean
Interim Dean, School of Nursing