The Future: with College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown

By Crystal Baity
Q: What changes do you foresee in the delivery of health care in rural areas and how will the role of nurses be affected?

A: The 21st century model of healthcare will see patients make health decisions with assistance from a variety of health care providers. Telehealth, telepharmacy, and electronic medical records will increase access to health care for all, especially those individuals living in rural underserved areas.

The recent Institute of Medicine Report on the Future of Nursing recommends that advanced practice registered nurses be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training and to be full partners with physicians and other health care professionals in redesigning health care in the U.S.

Nurses will play a significant role in ensuring the delivery of safe, patient-centered care across all settings. The use of telecommunication and computer technologies will enable healthcare providers to provide services from a distance to rural areas that may have limited access to enhance patient care.
Q:  What developing technology will affect nursing and the way future nurses are educated as simulation mannequins and full scale operating rooms have in the past?

A:  Technological advances are increasing opportunities to improve dramatically the quality of and access to nursing education. The sophistication of simulation equipment is phenomenal and now we are using serious gaming strategies in a virtual world to educate our students in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.  Teaching can now take place in a complex multidisciplinary, multi-faceted environment with learning through all the senses. 

Changes in healthcare are requiring nurses to be technically competent and able to quickly adapt to using technology in their practices.  Mobile apps are now being used in the clinical setting to enable nurses to quickly find information at their finger tips.  

The challenge facing nursing is to integrate technological competency while focusing on the development of a meaningful therapeutic relationship with the patient and their family, which remains the heart of nursing.
Q: In what ways will the growth of distance education change content and delivery of nursing instruction and training?

A: The College of Nursing has been a leader in online education in nursing. Having been recognized nationally as a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence for creating environments that enhance student learning and professional development, this designation attests to the commitment that our faculty has for providing quality instruction both face to face and through distance education.

Whether in a classroom setting or online, the importance of effective communication, collaboration, and building a learning community are important elements for effective teaching. The method of delivery is becoming less of an issue now that technology is becoming more pervasive in teaching. Communication is the key in developing meaningful learning environments.
Q: How will the ratio of men and women entering the nursing profession change in the coming decades, and how will the role of women change in a field where they have been the dominant presence?

A: Although men comprise only about 7 percent of the nursing workforce, this number is steadily increasing. Approximately 10 percent of the enrollment in our college is male. The lack of diversity in the nursing workforce is an area of concern for our profession. The ability to provide quality culturally competent patient care is closely tied to a culturally diverse nursing workforce.

Nursing has made great strides in recruiting and graduating nurses that mirror the patient population, but much more must be done before adequate representation becomes a reality. The addition of men as well as other under-represented groups such as African Americans and Hispanics will be essential in meeting the health care needs of our community and reducing health disparities that exist among minority populations.
Q: Why will people be attracted to a career in nursing in the coming decades?

A: The U.S. is projected to have a nursing shortage that will intensify due to additional need for health care and aging baby boomers. One of the fastest growing jobs in the next decade is nursing. It is anticipated that nursing careers will grow faster than most other careers through 2018, with over 580,000 new jobs in registered nursing alone.

Job security, flexibility in roles, and competitive pay are all elements that attract individuals to a career in nursing. However, the one core component for choosing a career in nursing that has not changed over the decades is the desire to help patients and their families to improve their health or adapt to illness. Nurses make a real difference in people’s lives every day.
Q: How do you describe the ECU nurse of the future?

A: The ECU nurse of the future will hopefully have the same inherent values as our first graduates who began 50 years ago. Certainly the health care system will be quite different, with more emphasis on healthcare being managed in the community and home. Future nurses will need to be prepared for constant change and be lifelong learners.

An interdisciplinary team of health care providers will be providing the services to patients and their families with nurses serving as team members and leaders for a patient-centered health care system. The ECU nurse will be committed to providing excellent patient care, improved quality and safety, and better outcomes.

The ECU nurse of the future will be a leader in advancing health care services.
Q: How do we take what we have learned from the last 50 years of educating nurses at ECU and carry it forward to the next 50?

A: I am amazed at the foresight of the first class of nursing students that began in 1960. A time honored tradition that still exists in nursing is receiving a nursing pin at completion of the program. Most nurses still wear their pin on their uniform (or scrubs) in their daily work as a nurse.

The ECU College of Nursing pin was designed by our first students. They wrote a description of the pin, which characterizes the values that still persist in our school today. The pin is designed in the shape of a shield, which they referred to as a modified shield of trust taken from the university seal. The three points of the shield stand for love, mercy, and understanding—all critical characteristics of nurses.

Symbols on the pin include a globe as a never ending circle representing the world; a book, quill, and inkpot symbolizing knowledge, and scholarship. A nursing caduceus represents the profession of nursing and a lamp which symbolizes service and light. The flame in the lamp represents a vibrant life.

Across the pin is the University motto "Sevire", to serve. These symbols of nursing will be carried forward from the past 50 years to our future nursing students. These characteristics characterize a true "Pirate Nurse."