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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 617–373-2637.