By Jennifer Lollar
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing has named three accomplished internal leaders poised to continue the School’s momentum and upward trajectory to the positions of Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Prelicensure Education, and Chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care.
David Vance, PhD, MGS, MS, who has served as Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship since August 2018, has accepted the position permanently. Vance has had a highly successful research career at the UAB School of Nursing and has multiple experiences that have prepared him to lead the Office of Research and Scholarship. Vance joined the School in 2006 as an Assistant Professor and has steadily progressed to the rank of full professor. He has had continuous funding as a principal investigator and co-investigator from the NIH since that time, including two current NIH R awards. From 2011 to 2018, Vance served as Assistant Director of the Office of Research and Scholarship and also served as Director of the School of Nursing PhD Program from 2012 to 2014. Vance’s research centers around cognitive processing, aging, HIV and chronic disease.
“Dr. Vance is a scholar and scientist, a role model for many in our School, around our campus and in the profession for his leadership, pioneering spirit and prolific publications,” Harper said. “Under Dr. Vance’s leadership, we will continue to build and expand on the infrastructure created in the Office of Research and Scholarship and continue to work collaboratively across our missions to support and grow sustainable scholarly productivity in our School. We are fortunate to have scientists of Dr. Vance’s caliber in our School and I am confident in his ability to continue to advance the School’s Research and Scholarship mission as we work toward our strategic goal of top 10 schools of nursing nationally in NIH funding.”
Associate Professor Gwendolyn Childs, PhD, RN, FAAN, joined the School’s faculty in 2007 and has served as Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Pre-Licensure Education since 2018. She has had a distinguished career in the School and across campus. Childs is an associate scientist with the UAB Center for AIDS Research, UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center and UAB Center for the Study of Community Health, and is the recipient of multiple research grants for her work. Her research focuses on approaches for reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections in adolescent African American girls with an emphasis on sexual decision-making and risk-taking among African American girls ages 12 to 14 years living in the Deep South region of the U.S. Childs formerly directed the School’s Clinical Scholar’s Program at Children’s of Alabama, where she mentored nurses in the development of projects to directly impact the quality of care provided to their patients and families. She also has served as a national board member of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care and received the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care President’s Award. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.
“I have remained impressed with Dr. Child’s leadership and innovation as she has taken on the added responsibilities for leading our undergraduate and prelicensure programs toward the scholarship of teaching, research and practice into continued success that drives excellence for faculty and students in our undergraduate programs,” Harper said. “I am convinced with her at the helm of this important part of our education mission, our School will continue to augment its leadership role as a top producer of highly qualified nurses in the state, region and country.”
Allison Shorten, PhD, MS, RN, RM, FACM, FAAN, has accepted the permanent position of Chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care. Shorten joined the UAB School of Nursing faculty in 2016 from her joint appointment in the Yale University Schools of Nursing and Medicine and assumed the role of Interim Chair of the Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care in October 2018. A renowned registered nurse and nurse midwife from Australia, Shorten is internationally recognized for her trailblazing Birth Choices decision aid research. A fellow of the Australian College of Midwives and the American Academy of Nursing, she has made significant contributions to the nursing and midwifery profession and international research supporting shared decision making in pregnancy. Since her arrival at UAB, Shorten — an expert in evidence-based curriculum design — also has been leading the development of interprofessional curriculum in the Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation (CIPES).
“Dr. Shorten is known for her dynamic and innovative approaches to support interprofessional student learning and faculty development, and dedication to teaching excellence and mentorship across all levels of nursing and medical education,” Harper said. “She has played a key role in global health initiatives at the School of Nursing and throughout her academic career and her background and expertise in academic nursing and health care globally equips her to serve in this key academic leadership position for our School. I am confident she will continue to lead the ACC Department with distinction as she has the past year.”
Harper said having such strong leaders to promote from within the School is a testament to the quality of all of the School’s programs and initiatives and the leadership succession programs developed at UAB.
“Their experience as leaders, educators and researchers has equipped Dr. Vance, Dr. Childs and Dr. Shorten to serve in these academic executive positions and provides our School a sustainable leadership pipeline for now and in the future,” she added. “I look forward to continuing to work with them to advance our School’s missions and achieve our strategic goals.”