Nursing Dean Dayle Joseph made the announcement about the anonymous gift, which is being paid in installments over four years, during the annual Friends of the College of Nursing ceremonies at the University Club. Joseph said the donor wants to help young nurses succeed early in their careers by helping them deal with frustrations and obstacles that hinder workplace success and satisfaction.
“The donor believes that young nurses are often not shown the appropriate respect when they start their careers,” Joseph said. “The donor wants these young nurses to get what they need to be prepared, to assert themselves and to be confident in their new careers.”
Joseph said the gift will allow the college to become a leader in educating the nursing profession about communication issues that arise between young nurses and seasoned professionals.
“This donor cares about nurses and the future of nursing leadership,” Joseph said. “The donor wants nurses to stay in the field and become leaders who have a new, dynamic and respectful approach.”
The first event sponsored through the gift will be held on Feb. 17. A half-day workshop with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association will feature two speakers. “They will address communication patterns and they will also teach nurses how to assert themselves,” Joseph said.
Joseph said such continuing education efforts are important for the College, which is the only nursing program in the state that offers nursing education from the bachelor’s through the doctoral levels. The College enrolls 447 undergraduate students, 90 in a variety of masters’ degree programs and 24 in its doctoral program. In addition, there are 60 registered nurses enrolled in a URI program leading to the bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Joseph also announced that The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute honored URI Nursing Professor Patricia Burbank for Geriatric Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Burbank and the undergraduate faculty in the College of Nursing have created a stand-alone course for geriatric nursing. “This award distinguishes the University of Rhode Island’s College of Nursing and demonstrates the faculty’s commitment to teaching students the best practices in caring for the elderly,” Joseph said.
The announcement of the gift and the award were among the highlights of the Friends event. The event kicked off the College’s 60th anniversary celebration, which officially begins in January 2005. The Friend’s group was established in the last decade to support the College of Nursing through fund-raising, marketing and stewardship efforts. This group’s membership is comprised of nursing alumni, friends of the College, faculty and staff.
Joseph also unveiled special anniversary artwork designed by Ken Owens of North Kingstown, owner of the Owens Marketing Group and a member of the nursing friends group. Owens and his wife Mary are chairing the 60th Anniversary Committee.
“The anniversary celebration gives us an opportunity to highlight the wide-ranging accomplishments of our 3,600 alumni and contributions of the College of Nursing,” Joseph said. “It also gives us a chance to focus on the critical shortage of nurses in the state and the nation and what we are doing about it at the University.”
The dean said about half of the College’s graduates remain in Rhode Island.
“At URI, we are admitting more students, hiring more faculty thanks to additional funding from the General Assembly, and we are running on-site programs at The Miriam and Rhode Island hospitals to help nurses solidify and advance their careers,” said Joseph, chair of a statewide nursing study for the SHAPE Commission.
Joseph headed “Help Wanted: The Growing Crisis in Rhode Island’s Nursing Workforce as part the SHAPE (Statewide Assessment Planning and Evaluation) study, which was released in October.
“We surveyed nurses in Rhode Island about the current climate and about 2,400 responded, a response rate of nearly 70 percent,” Joseph said.
Joseph has presented the findings of the study to hospitals, to the honor society, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
Joseph’s work, efforts by faculty and staff to enhance nursing knowledge and practice and community service work are the types of contributions to the profession that will be highlighted during the anniversary year. In addition, the anniversary will be a chance to bring together nursing alumni, 35 full-time faculty and 18 part-time faculty members and staff to share and celebrate their accomplishments and the College’s achievements.
The College is a leader in providing midwifery care to women through its center at The Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket, and a national leader in geriatric nursing education. It has played a leadership role in helping the University and the state prepare for biological attacks by terrorists through mock exercises and is recognized nationally for a long-term study of premature infants. URI nursing faculty members and students volunteer at the Rhode Island Free Clinic in Providence and they provide nursing support for agencies that serve the homeless.
URI’s nursing program was lunched in 1945 in the Home Economics Department with a small group of students and one part-time nursing instructor. In 1947, the program was established as a Division of Nursing Education in the School of Home Economics. In the early days, a bachelor’s degree required five years of study. By 1950, the program included 63 students and it became the School of Nursing. In 1963, the College of Nursing earned national accreditation and in 1976, it moved to its current headquarters, White Hall.
“The belief, which has been true since 1945, that the College provides leadership through our faculty to better the health care environment of the people of Rhode Island, continues to be a major component of the College’s mission,” Joseph said in the College’s fall newsletter.
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Other anniversary events are:
• Retirement party for Associate Nursing Dean Ruth Waldman, Friday, Dec. 17, University Club, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Alumni Award Ceremonies, Barbara Hazard Munro, dean of the Boston College School of Nursing, Friday, April 15, University Club, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
• Alumni Weekend, Saturday, June 4, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., White Hall, alumni and friends will be able to attend undergraduate and graduate classes, enjoy lunch and take in a play focusing on death and dying, The Grim Reaper.
• Anniversary Gala, Saturday, Oct. 8, details to be announced.