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Rounds With Leadership: Bridging the Distance

Published July 22, 2020

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

July 22, 2020 - Bridging the Distance

Since February 2020, AACN’s priorities have focused on assisting member schools with maintaining their nursing education programs and advancing their missions despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic. We have provided guidance in the form of program guidelines, content-rich webinars, collaborative statements, and curated resources prepared by expert authorities.  Chief among our priorities has been the desire to maintain a strong connection with our membership at a time when virtual meetings and physical distancing has become the norm.

In an effort to engage directly with member deans on issues of great concern, we welcomed the opportunity to host four Like-School Discussion Forums in June to hear directly from academic leaders about their concerns, operational strategies, and success stories.  With deans convened into AACN’s four like-school groupings -- Small/Liberal Arts, Public, Private, and AHC-affiliated nursing schools -- we initiated discussion around two important questions:

  • What innovative strategies are you using to respond to the current economic and enrollment challenges within your schools of nursing?  
  • What innovations have you launched or are you developing to respond to other challenges including clinical placements and nursing program innovations?

Working with a Like-Schools facilitator and a Board Liaison, a total of 377 member deans participated in these informal exchanges, which provided a great opportunity to learn what was happening at nursing programs nationwide, connect with colleagues, ask questions, and share experiences. Members relayed details about how their programs transitioned following the pandemic, including how they cleared enrollment, fiscal, and operational hurdles.

Several common themes emerged across all four groups, including:

  • Enrollment targets will generally be met this fall, despite some initial concerns that the pandemic may lead to reduced admissions.
  • Clinical placements have been a challenge, but schools are being creative and offering alternatives to ensure that graduates get the experience they need to meet competency expectations.
  • More schools are using simulation and academic-practice partnerships to augment learning experiences and satisfy program needs.
  • Many schools are facing budget cuts as a result of the downturn in the economy.
  • Schools are focused on reopening this fall and how this will impact the learning experience.
  • Many expressed a strong desire for AACN to continue to offer opportunities for members to meet in addition to providing informational resources.

Notes from each of the virtual Like-School Discussion Forums, which contain practical suggestions and advice, are available online by clicking here.
In addition to these discussion forums, AACN also encouraged member deans to contribute to our new Gallery of Leadership by providing brief videos featuring insights from nursing deans on how their school and the larger nursing community are addressing COVID-19. AACN was fortunate to receive more than 40 videos from deans who shared inspiring accounts of leadership and ingenuity, which have helped their schools weather this public health crisis and thrive.

To review AACN’s Gallery of Leadership, click here.  Stay tuned for an upcoming call for videos related to combating systemic racism, promoting diversity and equity, and fostering inclusive learning environments.

Past Rounds with Leadership

March 25, 2020 -  Rising to Meet the Challenge

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