American Association of Colleges of Nursing honors Fairfield University’s School of Nursing for Re-envisioning Nursing Education

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Changes in the healthcare system, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, require that healthcare leaders have diverse educational preparation. To meet that need, Fairfield’s School of Nursing re-examined its master’s curriculum with the aim of providing more opportunities for interdisciplinary education.

[L-R] Dr. Eileen Breslin, president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), with Meredith Wallace Kazer, Ph.D., APRN, FAAAN, dean of Fairfield University's School of Nursing.

“The Leadership MSN was designed to be flexible within the rapidly changing healthcare market, while meeting the updated national accreditation standards,” said Dr. Sally Gerard, associate professor of nursing at Fairfield University.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has honored Fairfield University’s School of Nursing with a very prestigious award for its Master’s in Nursing Leadership (LEAD) program. The 2014 Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award recognizes the outstanding work of AACN member schools and supports them as they re-envision traditional models for nursing education. It was recently presented at AACN’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. to Meredith Wallace Kazer, Ph.D., APRN, FAAAN, professor and dean of the School of Nursing.

Changes in the healthcare system, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, require that healthcare leaders have diverse educational preparation. To meet that need, faculty in the School of Nursing re-examined the master’s curriculum with the aim of providing more opportunities for interdisciplinary education. Elective course offerings now allow students to consider courses in areas such as business, marketing, informatics, biotechnology, communication, and education. The curriculum re-design, support, and a follow-up study on outcomes are funded by a grant from the Kanarek Family Foundation.

“The Leadership MSN was designed to be flexible within the rapidly changing healthcare market, while meeting the updated national accreditation standards,” said Dr. Sally O. Gerard, program director and associate professor of nursing at Fairfield. “It supports interprofessional education through use of the other disciplines on campus.” Faculty from disciplines other than nursing teach or co-teach within the LEAD program.

The LEAD program, which is operated in close collaboration with the Western Connecticut Health Network, enrolled its first class of 24 students in September 2013; A new class of approximately 35 students began in fall of 2014.

Past recipients of the award have included Texas A&M University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Texas Christian University, and The Catholic University of America.

For more information about Fairfield University’s School of Nursing, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/academics/schoolscollegescenters/schoolofnursing/ or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 4150.

Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools. In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

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Meg McCaffrey
Fairfield University
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