The 2016-2020 strategic planning process began in the fall of 2015 and involved leaders from many levels within the Duke School of Nursing, University and Health System.
The result: a six-pronged strategic plan that will guide the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) into its next phase of growth and development. Not only will it strengthen DUSON’s position within the University; it will also help bolster the place it holds among its peers nationwide. “You don’t become a preeminent school and stay one if you don’t continue to make important decisions about goals, talent and resources and where you’re going,” said Dean Marion E. Broome, PhD, RN, FAAN. “DUSON is one of the few nursing schools with a long tradition of producing the best nurses and being innovative, and we intend to build on those traditions.”
Together with the consulting group AMC Strategies, LLC, DUSON faculty, staff and students identified six focal areas for targeted investment and growth:
- Clinical practice
- Global health
- People and environment.
From the initial meeting in October 2015, AMC Strategies discussed plan priorities with DUSON faculty, staff and students using a variety of strategies. Discussions touched on external peer benchmarks, best practice assessments and internal and external trends in nursing. Later meetings involved goal development, strategy identification and proposed metrics used to assess progress.
The final outcome, according to AMC Strategies leaders, is a plan that will move DUSON as well as its faculty, staff and students in a positive direction. “The DUSON Strategic Plan is a comprehensive road map for DUSON’s next chapter, building upon the School’s amazing growth and success over the last 10 years,” said Diana Carmichael, AMC Strategies president. “Given the tremendous involvement of all stakeholders across DUSON, Duke Health and Duke University, the DUSON strategic plan is well-aligned with the vision of Duke Health and the University, thus positioning DUSON to realize their bold new vision of the future.”
The planning process, she said, included faculty, staff and students. Through a collaborative, integrative approach, they meshed all the School’s components, crafting a clear vision for a sustainable path to future excellence. And the response throughout the process was overwhelmingly positive. “I am excited to be here at this time of strategic planning for the future of the School. I have found the process to be very impressive in that we critically analyze assets, strengths, weaknesses and health care trends in order to identify ways in which to improve and transform health care for all people,” said Schenita D. Randolph, PhD, MPH, RN, assistant professor and steering committee member. “I am most excited about the commitment that we have as a School to be engaged with our community and to improve the health of populations. DUSON is dedicated to reshaping the history and perceptions of our community partners and collaborating for the purpose of advancing health.”
Six focal areas were chosen for a specific reason in pursuit of the plan’s overall vision: “Together transforming the future of nursing to advance health with individuals, families and communities,” Broome said.
“Education is the School’s reason for existing. Significant emphasis will be placed on preparing students for entry-level and advanced practice, health system leadership and science and research. Doing so will increase the cadre of DUSON-educated clinicians who can provide the highest levels of patient care, lead systems of care in both hospitals and communities and develop knowledge to improve health and manage illness,” she said.
Additionally, a growing number of schools of nursing are pivoting to focus more on local communities as well as global health, giving students opportunities to tackle important questions of working with individuals and families where they live. Simultaneously, the faculty identified four research areas of excellence through which they can categorize their research efforts.
To get a firm understanding of what DUSON stakeholders want for the School, a survey was disseminated. Approximately 5,900 individuals — including more than 4,000 alumni — were invited to provide feedback about the School’s core values and strategic priorities. More than 70 percent of staff, almost 90 percent of full-time faculty and 8 percent of alumni responded. Forty-five individuals in the school were interviewed individually or in focus groups. Lastly, 11 leaders in Duke University and Duke Health, as well as deans at four leading universities were interviewed about what they perceived were the strengths and opportunities for the School.
Having the opportunity to provide feedback allowed individuals to be more involved with the School and feel empowered to help shape the School’s trajectory. “Participating in the DUSON strategic planning process as a student was a great example of how faculty cultivates leadership among students at Duke. I learned so much about the inner workings of the University and gained an appreciation for the goals and targets we set as a community. I felt my voice was truly heard,” said doctoral student and steering committee member Brittney Sullivan.
Survey respondents were asked to rate the importance and relevance of the core values recently identified by Duke Health’s strategic planning process as well as any other values they thought important. Four values: excellence, integrity, respect and innovation were affirmed. Collaboration and diversity and inclusion were two additional core values identified as important to the DUSON community and added to the School’s plan.
Based on all gathered input, the steering committee outlined six overarching goals for the School to pursue:
- Prepare transformational nursing leaders for the future.
- Lead and accelerate nursing science and its translation.
- Provide and promote unparalleled clinical expertise.
- Collaborate with the community to advance health.
- Take DUSON to the world and bring the world home.
- Be the destination for outstanding talent.
To fulfill these aspirations, the School has committed to ensuring nursing education is accessible to all admitted students, providing additional innovative global education opportunities and increasing the number of nurses in influential health policy and health care leadership positions.
In addition, there is a renewed commitment to helping nurse researchers translate their investigations into clinical care as well as to recruiting and retaining outstanding nurse research faculty and students. By diversifying research portfolios and funding sources, the School will also enhance its research and innovation achievements.
Clinically, DUSON intends to educate more clinical leaders in professional and scholarly practice as well as position itself as a valued partner in enhanced patient-centered care models. The School also wants to cultivate collaborative opportunities with other health care entities to design, test and implement clinical practice advancements.
School leaders want to use existing programs to reduce health inequalities and disparities as well as create and disseminate community-based models for practice, education and research. The School also hopes to augment its abilities to take advantage of external partnerships that offer students opportunities for local community and global experiences in research, education and service.
And to enhance diversity and inclusion, the School wants to focus on developing the talents of each faculty and staff member to create a work environment that values all contributions and is welcoming of all individuals, simultaneously becoming an employer of choice.
As intricate as it is, however, drafting the strategic plan was the easy part, Broome said. Implementing it will require thinking time and resource investment from faculty, staff and students. “The important work will come after we’ve introduced the plan, when we’ve had strategy and tactic discussions and a few town halls with our stakeholders,” Broome said. “Once we have the tactics, goals and strategies, we’ll need champions — those who really feel like they want to take on strategies in each focal area and move it forward.”
With the strategic plan approved and in place, Broome said, it’s now time to take it to the alumni. The hope is that this new framework will offer alumni even more ways to become actively engaged with the School, giving them a wider range of topics they will consider promoting, showing them how their contributions can actively impact the School and current students.
“We have five or six goals that fall in each of the six focal areas of education, research, global, community, clinical practice and people and environment,” she said. “Hopefully, our alumni and donors will identify with one of the goals. It will give them a vision of what they want to make a difference in.”
For example, if an alumnus attended a lecture on international health during their DUSON tenure that sparked a passion, he or she could be inspired to contribute to efforts that bolster the School’s burgeoning activities in this area. If they hear a researcher present their latest study of how to help patients with chronic illness manage their condition and improve their health, they may want to contribute to efforts in that area, or they may want to provide support for a student working in the community delivering health education to children at risk for injury.
Ultimately, she said, the strategic plan is a roadmap for faculty, staff and students to follow as they move the School into a position where it can create a bigger cadre of expertly-prepared nurses and leaders. But it’s also a guide for alumni, showing them how to contribute to the future of graduates, helping better position them to fulfill the new nursing industry mandate for expanded practice. “I think when alumni read the plan, they will see two things,” Broome said. “They’ll see we’re trying to shape the nursing profession by producing better leaders at every level and maximizing the talents of nurses in a variety of settings. They’ll also see a school that continues to be built upon tradition and the pursuit of excellence while seeking to shape the future of nursing and the role it will play in improving the health of individuals, families and communities.”