Sunday, May 16, 2010 was graduation day at Duke University and the School of Nursing graduated nearly 300 students with Bachelor, Masters, Post Masters, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. Several things struck me as I sat through the ceremony and listened to the speakers, descriptions of the various accomplishments and awards presented to students. Two general themes seemed to define students singled out for excellence: (1) graduating students with evidence of outstanding leadership; and (2) graduating students with a track record of service to the community and particularly to vulnerable populations. Both of these themes resonated deeply within me, as they are at the heart of the values of the School of Nursing and central to the mission of OGACHI. As I ran my finger down the long list of graduates, I was pleased each time my finger hesitated as it fell upon a student -- undergraduate and graduate, who had participated in a local or international cultural immersion experience associated with a clinical or residency placement. This signaled the concreteness and deliberateness of our efforts as a school of nursing to foster and instill in our graduates a hardy respect and commitment to diverse and vulnerable populations. These are, no doubt, commitments that will carry over into workplaces, passions that will be nurtured over time, as well as dedicated leadership questing for fair and equitable access to high quality, evidenced-based health care for all.
The graduation experience at Duke is being similarly played out around the globe as new, eager, and talented nurse graduates are poised to enter the workforce and determined to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities, and even nations. Despite the barriers that often challenge good health worldwide, nurses can expect to be in the vanguard using intellect, science, skills, creativity, and sheer numbers to make positive differences in the lives of people and in systems of care. Congratulations to the Class of 2009-2010!