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Dean Bobbie Berkowitz Gives Annual State of the School Address


“Today, we commemorate the school’s founding 125 years ago, and today we are at the forefront of nursing education and we’ve redefined the profession. In fact, our history is the history of nursing.”


*This is excerpted from Dean Berkowitz’s state of the school address at Alumni Reunion 2017.


On May 16, we graduated our first cohort of students from our new Master’s Direct Entry (MDE) program. Our second cohort begins in June. Our student body is an impressive representation of academic excellence and diversity. As you know, our MDE program focuses on care coordination, evidence-based practice, and culturally sensitive care. It was designed to prepare nurses to meet the challenges of caring for more complicated, longer-living patients and prepare our students to be leaders, to be capable of adapting to and meeting the changing demands of the profession.


We also prepare our students to be leaders and scientists; this is what our two doctoral programs and our outstanding faculty enable us to do. This past year we have double the applications for our Doctor of Nursing Practice program from the previous year. We also awarded our largest scholarship fund in the history of the school to our incoming MDE cohort.


Our students take an active role in sharing their experience at Columbia Nursing to help foster new, incoming students in the role of student mentors. This program has been vital in providing students with a sense of community, campus engagement, and professional networking. Our students also take an active role in advocating for issues important to the field. Just last month, a group of students went to Albany on Capitol Day.


On the research front, we continue to strengthen our ongoing programs to support our doctoral students and faculty members in pursuing research grants.  This includes coaching and mentoring in the crucial areas of grant writing, manuscript preparation, and professional presentation. We see our success here too: we continue to be one of the largest per-capita recipients among nursing schools of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, we are among the top 10 percent of doctoral programs nationwide receiving federal training grants to support pre- and post-doctoral scholars.


Our faculty members have more than 70 active research grants. A few examples of new federally-funded studies include: a National Institute of Nursing Research Center of Excellence in Self-Management of Symptoms; a clinical trial using mobile phone technology to deliver HIV prevention information to at-risk young men; the use of technology for heart failure symptom management; and validation of a new tool to improve patient safety.  We have several studies focused on infection prevention, such as preventing risk of infection in the home care setting; another study looking at the relationship between healthcare-associated infections and the intensity of nursing demands; and the newest one which is focused on infection management and palliative care at the end of life.  Newly funded research includes how to improve sleep quality in urban high school students with asthma and self-care decision making in underserved Black adults with asthma.


I am very excited about a new program called Linking to Improve Nursing Care and Knowledge (LINK) that connects hospital-based registered nurses from NewYork-Presbyterian with nurse scientists at Columbia Nursing to carry out specialized research for nurses in clinical settings who have identified recurring problems in patient care. Led by Dr. Elaine Larson, Assoc. Dean for Research and Scholarship and Reynaldo Rivera, director of nursing research and innovation at NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP), the LINK team provides conceptual, statistical, and logistical support, including assistance in determining feasibility and pursuing funding. More than a dozen studies are currently in the pipeline. We’re are looking forward to ongoing collaboration with our peers at NYP.


On the global front our school continues to promote advanced practice nursing through our Pan American/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Advanced Practice Nursing. This November we will host a symposium on Advanced Practice Nursing Regulation in Latin American and Caribbean Countries, bringing together stakeholders throughout the region. 


Last July, working with the Columbia Global Center in Amman, Jordan, and following the clinical research summit in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015, we convened a landmark conference of nursing and midwifery leaders from approximately 22 countries to identify and develop plans for addressing gaps and priorities in nursing and midwifery clinical research in the eastern Mediterranean region. This July will be the third Summit meeting, bringing together nursing and midwifery leadership from southern and eastern African countries and the eastern Mediterranean region to exchange models for promoting clinical research. 


Our students are gaining extraordinary global opportunities to learn and grow as professional nurses through the establishment of new partnerships with institutions in countries such as Mexico, Jamaica, Malawi, Ethiopia, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Jordan.


Locally, our students will gain valuable experience through clinical rotations at our faculty practice. Last fall, we opened the doors of Columbia Nursing’s newly re-branded Nurse Practitioner Group in Washington Heights, and more recently in Morningside Heights. In addition to providing students with the opportunity to train at a state-of-the-art facility alongside faculty, this expansion has allowed us to bring much needed primary care to the community. The Washington Heights facility offers specialties including a psychiatric-mental health NP who can provide therapy and medication management, family health care, and LGBT care. 


The Nurse Practitioner Group just launched a house calls service for adult patients living in Washington Heights and Inwood who need comprehensive, in-home primary health care. Our house calls nurse practitioners will provide services such as post-acute care after hospitalization, annual wellness visits, vaccinations, diagnostic testing and referrals to specialists in the ColumbiaDoctors network.


This brings me to one of our most highly anticipated accomplishments to date, one which will forever change our school: the opening of our new building this summer.


These are extraordinary times for Columbia Nursing as we mark the school’s exceptional and pioneering 125 year heritage, and look forward to our future as we continue to be a major force in the advancement of nursing and nursing education.