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Q & A With Jean Dyer

Q & A With Jean Dyer

Jean Dyer is the new dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She moved to Salt Lake City last summer from Portland, Maine, where she served as director of the Department of Nursing and Health Services Management at the University of New England. Her experience includes international partnerships, program development, curriculum design, and assessment of student learning. Dyer holds a PhD from the University of Maine, an MSN in Nursing Education and Community Health from Salem State College, and a BSN from Adelphi University. She also completed graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Health Professions and the University of Rochester.

What made you decide to come to Westminster College?

I believe that a leader is as good as the team they are working with. The camaraderie and expertise of the Westminster nursing faculty and staff has made it a genuine pleasure to lead the Westminster School of Nursing and Health Sciences. It is the remarkably collaborative and cooperative attitude among administration, faculty, and staff that drew me to Westminster. I wanted to be a part of an institution that was poised to grow and valued creativity. I admired the cohesive nature of the faculty, and their expertise was impressive. They also had a heightened awareness of the need for stronger partnerships between nursing practice and nursing education.Westminster is very appealing. The campus is beautiful and everyone has been so welcoming and supportive. I’ve never experienced this kind of reception before! The administration, faculty, and staff truly embody the spirit of the strategic plan.

What do Westminster College nurses really need before they enter the workforce?

The registered nurse must be competent at the bedside. There are several important aspects that help develop competency. For example, when our new home, the Health,Wellness, and Athletic Center, opens, we will have students train in our simulator laboratories. They will participate in mock clinical experiences with a “SimMan” (adult human simulator) and the equivalent pediatric simulator, in addition to participating in traditional clinical experiences. The students will learn to value and maintain a holistic approach to health care through complementary medicine where we look at the whole person, their family, community, and their environment as they respond to illness or injury.

What do nursing students need in order to prepare for today’s healthcare environment?

In addition to the therapeutic regimes, students need to become life-long learners who are prepared for—and open to— the rapidly changing technology in the field of nursing. At the same time, they need to value and perpetuate the caring, holistic, and humanistic components of nursing. These values are integral to our curriculum so that the graduate nurse is capable of performing effectively in practice while at the same time respecting the patient as a human being.

How are you encouraging a stronger partnership between nursing practice and academia?

An example might be that we have developed advisory councils to help guide us. The councils are composed of individuals from all health care practice settings, from a variety of hospitals to the criminal justice system and long term care facilities. Having a strong relationship with practice settings is vital to ensuring that the nurses we send into the workforce have the ability to meet the needs of various settings. What else would you like Westminster alumni, faculty, and staff to know about the School of Nursing and Health Sciences? Due to the demand for nurses, we have used new models to accommodate the increased enrollment this spring. The effort to increase our enrollment has been facilitated by a $400,000 grant we received recently from Intermountain Health Care. We also offer a new Master of Science in Nursing Education to prepare nurses to teach in staff development or higher education. And, we are in the planning phase of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) program, which will be the only CRNA program in the Intermountain West.We also still offer our Master’s in Nursing with a certificate in Family Nurse Practice.

By Robin Boon