By Erica Techo
The UAB School of Nursing is known for its commitment to analyze the future needs of nursing leadership as it educates talented, highly-qualified registered nurses to influence health care at all levels and lead the profession in today’s rapidly changing environment.
The School, as a trailblazer in nursing education, produces strong nurse leaders through its MSN health systems leadership pathways and doctoral programs of study, evidenced by its nationally ranked programs, including the No. 2 Nursing Healthcare Systems Administration program in 2019 as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the No. 8 Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.
“The UAB School of Nursing’s mission is focused on preparing the nursing workforce. That workforce is evolving, and different skills are growing in importance. By providing executive and administration leadership pathways in both programs, we’re preparing graduates for what’s ongoing as well as what’s going to be needed,” said Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN.
UAB School of Nursing’s MSN features multiple specialty tracks, including its nationally ranked Nursing Health Systems Administration, Nursing Informatics and Clinical Nurse Leader pathways. All of the track’s courses are distance-accessible and provide a high-quality, affordable education taught by senior-ranked, internationally known faculty.
“In our master’s leadership specialties, students complete a common core of leadership courses together in the beginning of the curriculum that provides a common foundation where students learn each other’s specialties and roles before branching out,” said Health Systems Leadership Pathway Director and Nursing Informatics Specialty Track Coordinator Marisa Wilson, DNSc, MHSc, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FAMIA, FAAN. “All of our students are well-grounded in leadership with advanced knowledge in their specialty areas.”
The School’s DNP curriculum includes didactic and clinical immersion experiences designed to prepare students to lead improvements in practice that support population health and health system change, raising the level of nursing and amplifying the voices of nurses.
As former chief nursing officers and executive directors, faculty in the DNP and MSN pathways draw on their personal perspective and longitudinal experience across systems.
“Other universities have educators who teach these classes. UAB has nurse leaders who have become faculty and can bring into the classroom experience, timely information and a global perspective,” said Nurse Executive Certificate Pathway Director Lori Loan, PhD, RN, FAAN.
Identifying nursing students that exemplify strong leadership qualities, encouraging them to pursue further study and developing administrative leadership skills expands opportunities for graduates and improves nursing at all levels of care, said Nursing Health Systems Administration Specialty Track Coordinator Greg Eagerton, DNP, RN.
“The role of nurse leader has transitioned. Nurse leaders now oversee more than just nurses, so it’s our responsibility to educate nurses and help prepare them to manage at all levels,” said Eagerton. “These skills are not just important in the C-suite. It takes very strong leaders at every level for an organization to be successful.”
“The conversation has changed from merely ensuring nurses have a seat at the boardroom table. Nurses now have a seat at the table and a role in decision making,” Loan said. “Now that we’re at the table and have the opportunity to influence care and systems on a wide scale, we have to provide the executive-level training that creates nurse leaders who have it all — experience in the field, executive doctoral education and the skills needed to transform health systems.”
As health systems continue to change, UAB School of Nursing stays on the leading edge of educational opportunity.
The School is also looking at creating other pathways to meet developing needs, including quality and safety, transitional care and population health in upcoming years, as well as a nurse executive certificate that may be completed post-DNP or post-PhD or added to the PhD and DNP programs of study.
“We see the leadership needs are becoming more diverse and complex. There’s a broader need, and by focusing on these areas, we’re filling gaps in education and creating leaders who can bridge gaps in the field,” Moneyham said. “UAB School of Nursing is also establishing pipelines to encourage our undergraduate students to pursue these specialties and become nurse leaders. In addition to creating highly-qualified RNs, we’re providing students with advanced opportunities to have a seat at the table, make decisions and influence health care at all levels.”