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University of Iowa News Release

Release: May 5, 2003

Top-Ranked Nursing Programs Emphasize Research And Leadership

Photo: Melanie Dreher

The UI College of Nursing has much to celebrate during this year's National Nurses Week, May 6-12. Three of the college's programs recently landed in the top 10 of U.S. News and World Report's rankings of best graduate schools.

The Nursing Master's Program, ranked for the first time, is number eight out of 354 programs ranked. The nursing service administration (NSA) program remains at number one, where it has been since 2000. The gerontological nurse practitioner program is number two, up from number four in 2000. The programs share a common thread of a strong research component with outstanding clinical skills training.

"I am so proud of our faculty members who work to advance all of the programs at the College of Nursing," said Melanie Dreher, Ph.D., Kelting Dean and Professor of the college. "These rankings are a testament to their innovation and commitment to preparing the best possible nursing professionals."

Graduates of the UI College of Nursing are sought by hospitals and nursing recruiters because of the college's reputation.

"I'm approached all the time by hospital administrators who hire our graduates whenever they have the chance," Dreher said. "They know our nurses have exceptional clinical skills, combined with a mindset of leadership and patient advocacy.

"That mindset is no accident," Dreher said. "We actively educate our students to assume responsibility and take a leadership role in the clinical setting. The kind of care nursing professionals provide, how they provide it, how they define quality and how efficiently they work determines, to a great extent, the quality, cost and availability of health care. Our nurses are taught that from day one. They believe it and they perform accordingly."

The master's program at Iowa, which began in 1952, offers 14 specialty areas, all of which require a research component and extensive clinical experience. Four core courses, including leadership, nursing science and inquiry, informatics, and health policy and economics, are required in addition to focused study in the specialty area.

The NSA program is designed to provide in-depth knowledge in leadership, management and systems administration. The program teaches organizational dynamics and management practices and their impact on nurses, nursing delivery systems and patient outcomes.

With current estimates showing 2,500 vacancies for registered nurses in Iowa, the work of students in the NSA program proves valuable. Many of the students perform research in areas such as job stress and job satisfaction in search of ways to alleviate the nursing shortage. Their findings, as well as knowledge gained from faculty research, will be translated into new management strategies for nursing administrators in health care settings throughout Iowa and beyond.

Similarly, the impact the college's gerontological nursing students will make on the health of older Iowans is significant. With nearly 19 percent of Iowans ages 60 or older, and 2.2 percent ages 85 or older, Iowa's population is one of the oldest, per capita, in the country. Often older adults have multiple chronic illnesses, making nurses with advanced knowledge in the area of geriatric care critically important in this state.

The geriatric nurse practitioner program at UI educates nurses to become certified as clinical specialists or advanced practice nurses. The focus of the program is on managing the chronic and complex illnesses of older adults to help them maintain a high quality of life. Pain management and end-of-life care are integral to the gerontological curriculum.

Other nursing programs ranked by U.S. News include the pediatric nurse practitioner program at number 11, and the nurse anesthetist program at 25. Both are first-time rankings.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Nursing, 101 Nursing Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

CONTACT: Bonnie McIntosh, (319) 335-7003, bonnie-mcintosh@uiowa.edu.