Consolidation is expected to enhance collaboration and research opportunities
In sheer size, the “new” Rutgers School of Nursing rivals the largest nurse education programs in the country. Its leaders anticipate it also has the expertise, standards of excellence and direction to become a nationwide academic model.
“We have such a rich mix of expertise to educate students, provide community service and conduct research,” says William Holzemer, dean of the school. “We are very excited about our prospects for the future. The consolidation bodes well not just for nursing in New Jersey but beyond.”
On July 1, 2014, Rutgers’ College of Nursing and School of Nursing, which became part of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences in July, 2013, officially combined and began operating as the School of Nursing, with operations in Newark, New Brunswick and Blackwood. The newly consolidated school has 1,850 students and 125 full-time faculty.
While the integration of Rutgers with most of the other schools, centers and institutes that made up the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey occurred one year ago, leaders of both nursing schools anticipated their respective programs would eventually combine and so have been working toward their consolidation for nearly 18 months.
Early on, the two schools formed several committees to study major issues to be resolved before the schools combined.
While most existing education programs from each school are continuing in the combined school, the advanced practice master’s programs for adult, women, acute care and family nurse practitioner – previously offered at the School of Nursing – will transition to doctoral degree programs. The former College of Nursing had already made this transition, which follows national recommendations to move nurse practitioner education to the Doctor of Nursing Practice level.
Another significant change is admitting students twice each year. Previously, the school had admitted new students three times per year, and the college once per year.
“We felt this was important to enhance the time our faculty members could devote to their research and scholarship, as well as to provide students flexibility if they had to leave school temporarily for personal reasons,” Holzemer said.
Consistent with the shift to encourage expanded research activities, Holzemer is seeking to recruit a highly experienced individual to become associate dean of nursing science.
He also envisions increased collaboration between the School of Nursing and the other schools within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, plus continued progress in service learning by building upon the strong foundation of community service.
“Some collaboration is already occurring and those opportunities will increase as we continue to emphasize the interprofessional approach to educating our students,” Holzemer said.
Susan Salmond, executive vice dean, stressed that the three primary care community service programs operating in Newark will continue – the FOCUS Wellness Center, the mobile health care clinic and the Jordan and Harris Community Health Center.
“We are aligning them and sharing resources,” Salmond said. “These initiatives bring major benefits to the community residents and to our service learning component.”