In her home sewing room, Dr. Robin Dennison stitches bright swatches of cloth together. It’s a detail-driven, mindful process that will eventually pay off in the form of a handmade quilt. Her approach to the project epitomizes her work as the university’s director of nursing programs: Everything she does is a labor of love.
Dennison has, in partnership with a team of leaders from across the university, put careful thought and consideration into every component of its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, which will stand out because of its hallmarks: a strong commitment to innovation and an emphasis on interprofessional education. The program officially launched this fall, and as it pursues initial accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Dennison explains what makes the new program unique.
WHAT SETS THE UNIVERSITY’S MSN PROGRAM APART?
We’re a health and rehabilitative sciences university that has very strong physical and occupational therapy programs. Nursing students will take online courses with their physical and occupational therapy, athletic training, and Doctor of Education student peers, interacting and collaborating across professions. For example, when we tackle group projects, students from each discipline will contribute. By learning together, they will develop essential professional skills; all of our students will ultimately experience the same collaboration in their workplaces.
HOW DOES THE PROGRAM ADDRESS STUDENTS’ NEEDS?
I understand what it’s like to juggle classes, work, and family obligations. After earning my MSN in my mid-20s, I worked as a nurse and educator for decades before pursuing my Doctor of Nursing Practice. That’s why the flexible, online component of the program is so important. Students will be empowered to design their own schedules. However, we know that many students, no matter how busy, prefer face-to-face experiences as well, which is why we’re designing courses that will allow students to complete two-thirds of a course online with the option to visit campus for three days for group work and presentations—or complete the course entirely online. I want to give students choices in the way they learn.
YOU’VE PENNED SEVERAL BOOKS ON NURSING EDUCATION. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE?
I don’t want to leave this earth without leaving a footprint. My books are those footprints. My students who I’ve impacted through teaching are my footprints, too. They are why I’m so committed to educating the next generation of nurses.