Maria Rodriguez Shirey, PhD, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FAAN, professor and Associate Dean for the Office of Clinical and Global Partnerships at The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, teaches in the PhD and DNP programs focusing on leadership, management, health policy and scholarly writing. Shirey’s “real world” approach to leadership integrates her extensive experience as a nurse executive, educator and researcher. She is a prolific author and editor-in-chief of the Journal for Healthcare Quality. Shirey is a Fellow in four prestigious academies: American College of Healthcare Executives, American Academy of Nursing, Academy of Nursing Education and National Academies of Practice.
Q: You are leading a $2.8 million HRSA initiative to build a resilient RN workforce. How do partnerships factor into the initiative?
A: Partnerships form the foundation for the work of my newest grant, The Registered Nurses in Primary Care (RNPC) Initiative. Through this grant we are leveraging our existing academic-practice partnerships to build a resilient primary care registered nurse workforce in Alabama. Our RNPC Scholars receive didactic instruction in the classroom through a new course called Concepts of Primary Care Nursing. The classroom instruction is then reinforced through mentored field experiences for our students in the clinical sites of our six partners: the Providing Access to Healthcare Clinic, Heart Failure Transitional Care Services for Adults Clinic, Bessemer Neighborhood Clinic, Jefferson County Department of Health, Macon County Health Department and the East Central Alabama Area Health Education Council. With our affiliate partner, Tuskegee University School of Nursing, we are preparing the next generation of baccalaureate prepared nurses to address the disease prevention and control needs of the most vulnerable populations in the state of Alabama.
The beauty of partnerships is that our most impactful efforts happen not with us going at it alone, but rather in partnership with others who share our vision for advancing the health outcomes of individuals.
Q: Why did you seek the role of Associate Dean and what are your goals for the Office of Clinical and Global Partnerships?
A: Pursuing the role of Associate Dean in the Office of Clinical and Global Partnerships is a return to my roots at the UABSON. When I first joined the UAB faculty in 2013, I served as Assistant Dean in this office. I worked closely with Dr. Cindy Selleck, our former Associate Dean, until her recent retirement to grow partnership activities in this office. Assuming the Associate Dean position here is an example of my personal growth in academic leadership and my dedication to the integration of the service mission at the UABSON.
My goals as Associate Dean in the Office of Clinical and Global Partnerships are to enhance the growth of our programs and cultivate the sustainability of our partnership efforts. I believe in continuous quality improvement and so my drive is always the mantra: How can we do better, and what’s next? As a mentor, I am also motivated to engage in the professional development of the people I lead and with those I collaborate.
Q: What role do partnerships play in nursing and nursing education?
A: I am a firm believer in the role of academic-practice partnerships to address the longstanding gap that exists between academia and practice. Working at the intersection of education, research and practice has been at the core of my professional career trajectory. I hold dear the notion that practice informs our science and that science cannot exist in isolation without the evidence it generates being translated into teaching and practice to achieve impactful outcomes.
Q: How do students benefit, post-graduation, from these clinical and global partnerships?
A: The clinical and global partnerships at our school serve to enhance the professional socialization of nurses in their roles and they also serve as a mechanism to build long-term relationships. It has been said that it is through relationships that we achieve meaningful work. These relationships form the basis for many of our significant collaborations here at the school, across the nation and the world.
Q: How do UABSON’s partnerships help it stand apart?
A: UABSON is committed to its tri-partite mission both in word and in action. Our Dean’s vision to invest in and grow the teaching, research and service missions is consistent with our school’s commitment to excellence. Our partnerships form the foundation of our important relationships and help to fuel our pursuit of new opportunities to achieve our mission. At the UABSON, we do not rest on our laurels and are always positioned for the next challenge. It is never boring at the UABSON.