20 Questions With Vice Dean, Bob Atkins

20 Questions With Vice Dean, Bob Atkins

In August we welcomed new Executive Vice Dean Dr. Robert Atkins, a community builder and highly respected senior leader in higher education, to the Hopkins School of Nursing.  We look forward to the impact he will bring as he puts his mark on JHSON with his expertise and enthusiasm.  Learn more with:

Twenty Questions with New Executive Vice Dean Bob Atkins:

  1. What has been the most exciting aspect of transitioning into your role as Executive Vice Dean?

I have been astounded by the energy and idealism of the students I have met – MEN (future colleagues), DNP/PhD (colleagues). Equally astonishing is the commitment, dedication, and innovativeness of the JHSON faculty and staff.

2. What’s the one thing that you feel sets the School of Nursing apart from our peers/competitors?

Our leadership. Sarah Szanton can see around the corner, she has a big and audacious vision for the school, and she is assembling a team of faculty and staff to work toward that vision.

3. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the nursing profession right now?

Getting beyond the “this is the way we have always done it” mindset.

4. Philly Cheesesteak or Baltimore Crab Cake?

Philly Cheesesteak.

5. What is the one characteristic that you find is common among all nurses across all specialties and roles?

A desire to serve with the head, hands, and heart.

6. How do you maintain family balance with your work as Vice Dean, nursing scientist, and faculty member?

Not as well as I would like. It’s a work in progress. Let’s go 2023.

7. How do you see our programs improving the future of the nursing profession?

The JHSON faculty and staff are building the playbook for nursing in the 21st century. In a couple of years, nursing schools across the country will say, “We’re doing it that way because that’s the way they do it at Hopkins.”

8. For a fancy dinner do you prefer surf or turf?


9. According to the AACN, .6% of nurses in today’s workforce hold a PhD degree and 1.2% hold a DNP. Why do you think it’s important to educate nurses on the advantages of going back to school to earn their terminal degrees?

Nursing is the largest segment of the healthcare workforce and one of the most trusted professions in the country. Doctorates position nurses to build and leverage the best evidence.

10. Are there any new academic programs you would like to implement at the SON?

Possibly. For right now my focus is on making sure that our existing programs are excellent.

11. How can we impact the needs of the Baltimore community as we prepare future nurses?

We can approach communities with humility and form partnerships based on the questions “1.) what do you need and 2.” what can we do with you?”

List the goals at the top of your list for your new position.

  1. Being grounded in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice;
  2. Accepting that the resources of the School of Nursing obligate us to give more back than we take from communities (endowment rather than extraction);
  3. Being entrepreneurial, reimagining existing partnerships and forging new partnerships to create new opportunities;
  4. Build an inclusive school community that advances diversity, equity, and inclusion by creating a psychologically safe and energizing work environment where faculty, staff, and students are thoughtful stewards of everyone’s resources (time, talent, and energy);
  5. Give each other grace as we strive for work-life balance.

12. What opportunities available through our school do you see impacting our MSN Entry Into Nursing student’s future career?

Getting nursing back into community health, population health, racial and social justice.

13. Head first parking or back-in parking?

Head first.

14. What unique skills or perspectives do you think those that identify as make bring to the field of nursing?

That’s a tough one. Depends on the individual and depends on the day.

15. Why do you think it’s important to strive for a diverse students population?

The next generation of nurses should be as diverse as the populations our nurses serve.

16. When you wake up in the morning, what excites you most about your job?

The people I get to work with.

17. What’s your favorite family tradition?

Every July 4th weekend my parents, five siblings, and 19 nephews and nieces go to Mashpee, MA for the Mashpee Wampanoag powwow.

18. What is the biggest challenge you think we face as a school of nursing?

Fear of failure.

19. Toilet paper – under or over?


20. Beach or mountains?


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