Alumna is first nursing dean at Belmont Abbey College

Photo of Carolyn Harmon

By Hunter Carter

As she completes her first full year as the inaugural Dean of Nursing at Belmont Abbey College, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing alumna Carolyn Harmon, DNP, PhD, RN-BC (DNP 2014), hopes to be a helping hand in ending the critical nursing shortage.

Since starting the role in March 2021, Harmon has been working on starting the department of nursing and getting accreditation from the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) for the pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“Being able to create a nursing program from the ground up has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” Harmon said. “After all the hard work that went into trying to get the pre-licensure BSN program started, I am excited to say that in January the NCBON approved the BSN program and we will be admitting students for the Fall 2022 semester.”

Other initiatives that Harmon is excited about are creating a contemporary curriculum to meet the needs of community partners, establishing an advisory board that includes clinical and community partners and building a strategic plan to address the needs of the future nursing workforce.

A workforce projection by the University of North Carolina and the NCBON finds the state could face a shortage of 12,500 registered nurses by 2033. One way Harmon is looking to combat the shortage is by partnering with CaroMont Health to provide a space for clinicals and employment opportunities for post-graduate students.

“Students will have faculty-led clinicals each semester at CaroMont, with their last semester being a preceptorship transition to practice. This preceptorship consists of a 120-hour focused-client-care experience to ease the transition from academics to practice,” Harmon said. “We also have partnerships with Holy Angels Sisters of Mercy, Novant Health and Medical Facilities of America to streamline post-graduate employment and enhance employment. Our RN-BSN students have the opportunity to use these facilities for their service-learning and clinical projects.”

Though creating a department of nursing is new for Harmon, she is no stranger to building the foundation for nursing programs at other institutions. Before being named dean, Harmon was the inaugural chair of BSN Nursing at the Carolinas College of Health Sciences School of Nursing. In that role, she established an online RN-BSN program, obtained initial CCNE accreditation for that program and maintained enrollment through one year of inauguration.

Harmon has fond memories from her time at the School and credits her mentor and former director of the DNP program, Dr. Linda Roussel, for providing her advanced knowledge of translational science and leadership.

“I feel blessed to be a graduate of a high-quality DNP such as the DNP at UAB. Many programs miss the key importance of the DNP degree. At UAB, I gained meaningful knowledge on leading translational science initiatives,” Harmon said. “Dr. Roussel is an expert in translational and implementation science and nursing leadership, and her keen understanding of the role of the DNP is the foundation of my success as a UAB alumna.”

Last modified on March 29, 2022

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