U.Va. Nursing Dean Appointed to State Task Force

Jan. 11, 2007 -- Jeanette Lancaster, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and Dean of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, has been invited by the Virginia Secretaries of Education and of Health and Human Resources to serve on a statewide Healthcare Workforce Task Force. 

Dr. Lancaster, a nationally and internationally recognized leader in nursing education, recently became President of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the prestigious organization known for its educational, research, and advocacy programs related to nursing education and its quality standards.

“This is an important – and exciting – time for nursing in Virginia,” Dr. Lancaster notes.  “Forces are now converging to put into place solutions to our existing and growing nursing shortage.  Policymakers and representatives from higher education, business and health systems management all recognize that we can’t fully address the nursing shortage until we fix the nursing faculty shortage.  We now appear to have an excellent alignment of efforts at the highest level to achieve that goal.”

The aim of the Task Force, working with the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV), is to increase the number of nurses and nursing faculty within Virginia through a new program that combines resources from both state and federal government sources to fund grants for this purpose.  For the next two fiscal years, the Commonwealth has designated $750,000 annually to both the University of Virginia and to the Northern Virginia Community College to support public-private sector partnerships to increase the supply of nursing faculty and to maximize the number of newly licensed nurses.

The Task Force will develop criteria for the grant awards, identify aggressive goals, establish a mechanism to measure results, and make recommendations to the Council and policy makers.  It is co-chaired by Marilyn B. Tavenner, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, and Thomas R. Morris, Secretary of Secretary of Education.  In addition, there are two members of the Senate (Brandon J. Bell, II and Janet D. Howell), three of the House of Delegates (Robert H. Brink, Phillip A. Hamilton and John M. O’Bannon) and six others from outside government.  Among those six are two higher education leaders (Dr. Lancaster and Dr. Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System), two business leaders (Julien G. Patterson, President and CEO of Omniplex World Services Corp. and Sanjay Puri, President and CEO of Optimos, Inc.) and two hospital/health system executives (Margaret G. Lewis, President of the HCA Capital Division and Chris A. Lumsden, CEO of the Halifax Regional Health System).  This mixture of professional expertise assures experience and knowledge of nursing and other allied health professional supply, training and practice issues. 

The University of Virginia School of Nursing is rated among the nation’s top nursing schools; three of its graduate programs are ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s Top Ten and it is 22nd in the country in National Institutes of Health (NIH) nursing research funding.  It ranks #1 in the country in National Research Service Awards (NRSA) from the NIH to support research training. The School also is a leader in implementing new programs and strategies to address both the national nursing shortage and the concurrent need for more highly educated nurses to deliver increasingly complex health care. Approximately 550 students are enrolled in undergraduate, master’s degree, post-master’s, and PhD programs.  For more information, visit www.nursing.virginia.edu or call 434-961-4503.