April 20, 2014

Trendsetters: Universities

Mike Vogel | 1/1/2008

Nursing a Niche


[Photo: Eileen Escarda]

Diane Whitehead

Nova Southeastern University
Associate dean / chair, Fort Lauderdale

Reviewing ‘Grey’s Anatomy’:
“I don’t see all the romantic things in my workplace. Nurses like ‘CSI.’ ”

Personal: Mother of two, grandmother of three

In the five years since Nova Southeastern University launched its nursing program amid a shortage of nurses and an even more critical shortage of faculty, it has taken some non-traditional approaches, grown to 538 students on campus, online and at satellites, begun offering master’s and doctorate’s and achieved the second-highest pass rate on the R.N. exam among Florida schools.

For most of those five years, the program has been led by Diane Whitehead, who began teaching in 1980 at Broward Community College. In 2002, she and a BCC colleague, Sally Weiss, consulted for Nova on starting a program for R.N.s to earn a bachelor’s in 18 months rather than the traditional two or more years. It launched in 2003 with 45 R.N.s who wanted a bachelor’s. A 27-month fast-track “entry-level” bachelor’s program for people with no nursing experience was added in 2004, a master’s in 2005 and a doctorate in nursing education in 2007. Whitehead, 62, and Nova have focused on niches. It has five nursing master’s tracks such as business administration and health system leadership but not one for nurse practitioners, figuring other local schools already fill that need. To get faculty, Whitehead and Nova grow their own, “take strong practitioners and make them strong educators.” Five faculty members are getting doctorates. This month, Nova will open a lab to house its five human patient simulators.

Tags: Trendsetters, North Central, Education

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