Nursing Dean Pat Burns Announces She Will Step Down

Nursing Dean Patricia Burns: A Modern-Day Florence Nightingale.

During her 12-year tenure, Patricia Burns, PhD, RN, FAAN, built a thriving, nationally-prominent USF College of Nursing

Tampa, FL (Feb. 9, 2009) – After a highly successful 12-year career, Patricia Burns, PhD, RN, FAAN, has announced that she will step down as Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida. Dr. Burns is well respected in the nursing profession and the Tampa Bay community for her immeasurable contributions towards making life better through research, education and healthcare.

“I will miss the College of Nursing a great deal; however, the time has come for me to embark on a path towards a new chapter in my life,” Dr. Burns said. “I will always cherish my years at the College of Nursing and I’m looking forward to continuing a relationship with the community that I have been so much a part of for the past 12 years.”

In the Tampa Bay area, nursing shortages and nursing faculty shortages are greater than the national average. Under Dr. Burns’ leadership, the USF College of Nursing has developed new advanced degree programs and created innovative education models to fill this need in the profession. She established the Clinical Collaborative Initiative, a partnership between local healthcare agencies in the Tampa Bay area and the USF College of Nursing. The Initiative gives students seeking bachelor’s degrees the opportunity to reside in a single agency for clinical coursework. Students are often eligible and qualified to serve as nurse technicians, and employed by the agency after the first semester.

Addressing the Nursing Shortage
“The USF College of Nursing has fostered innovative programming between the community and college to address the nursing shortage by expanding student numbers and needs for more educators and enhancing the research focus within hospitals,” said Sandra K Janzen MS, RN, CNAA-BC, associate director of patient care services at James A Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, “This forum is an exemplary model of community and academic collaboration that addresses current and future needs while systematically exploring innovative ideas together.”

The College of Nursing has built healthcare partnerships across 10 counties in Florida and forged collaborations across the University, state, nationally and internationally. The College’s exchange program with the University of Panama is now in its third year. To date, three delegations totaling nearly 45 nursing students have participated in the program, a hands-on community health learning experience.

Clinical community partnerships are imperative for preparing nurses in advanced clinical roles as much needed educators and researchers. One such partnership is the College’s longstanding collaboration with Moffitt Cancer Center, the only comprehensive cancer center in Florida designated by the National Cancer Institute. USF offers the only oncology nursing master’s program in the state.

Innovative Graduate Nursing Programs
The College’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Nurse Anesthesia, and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) advanced graduate degree nursing programs epitomize Dr. Burns’ vision of the ideal innovative education model. One of the first colleges in the country to offer the CNL and DNP programs, USF has graduated some of the first nurses in the country with these degrees. Started in Fall 2006 in response to the nationwide demand for more anesthesia providers, USF is only the third public university to offer the nurse anesthesia program out of seven accredited nursing programs in Florida. USF’s program is the first in the Tampa Bay area. In Fall 2008, 100 percent of USF’s charter class of 12 nurse anesthetists graduated with a job already lined up.

Nursing baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral program students and graduates provide safe competent healthcare in hospitals across the greater Tampa Bay area, a testament to the significant community impact of the collaborations Dean Burns initiated.

To facilitate the growth of research initiatives in the College and bring together diverse faculty and student research interests, Dr. Burns created a Nursing Research Center within the College. The Center has significantly broadened the College’s research portfolio, including multidisciplinary collaborations, and substantially upgraded its research infrastructure and capacity, including enhanced administrative support and expertise in data management, project management and statistical analyses.

Strengthening Research Collaboration
Recently, the College of Nursing increased its research awards by 64 percent and achieved its goal of raising both public and private funding by 40 percent – resulting in the highest percentage jump for a single college in research funding at USF for FY 2007-2008. The University’s overall research funding for FY2007/2008 rose by 17 percent over the previous fiscal year.

Dr. Burns further strengthened the College’s research endeavors by establishing a Biobehavioral Laboratory. Scheduled for completion this year, the laboratory will support the Research Center and the College’s Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Occupying more than 2,000-square-foot of space, it will house state-of-the art equipment for conducting blood assays, such as inflammatory markers, stress hormones, proteomics, and RNA and DNA analyses. The facility will also include multiple patient rooms for conducting physical examinations, clinical measurements, and treatments for health care and research purposes. Enabled by the College’s productive research environment and clinical partnerships, the PNI Center pursues research, education, and the translation of knowledge into clinical practice.

The College of Nursing’s collaborative structure encourages a community of scholars and clinicians interested in related topics. This benefits the college by providing a framework for research studies and partnerships. Ultimately, this strong research foundation benefits patients through evidence-based clinical care — another way Dr. Burns’ leadership has profoundly influenced healthcare in the Tampa Bay community.

Continued community support and individual contributions are vital to the future of the College of Nursing. As dean, Dr. Burns fostered a large increase in financial donations to the College; endowments have grown by more than $5 million during her 12-year tenure.

Building National Prominence
The College has received national support and accolades as well. The USF Master’s Program in Nursing was recently ranked 72 by U.S News and World Report — a large jump from 115 scored when the program was last ranked in 2003. The USF profile included in the 2009 Princeton Review “Best 368 Colleges” praises the College of Nursing. Among the candid comments of USF students surveyed for the book: “There’s a great nursing program.”

USF’s nursing programs have steadily flourished to accommodate a growing student population. As of Fall 2008 the College of Nursing had 1,888 students enrolled across its baccalaureate, masters, doctoral and continuing education programs – up from 628 students in Fall 1999. Dr. Burns oversaw the College of Nursing facility’s much needed physical expansion. Members of the College, University and community gathered to dedicate the new building in May 2005 and celebrated renovations that tripled the size of the College of Nursing facility, from 25,000 to 75,000 square feet.

In 2007, Dr. Burns launched the College on an exciting and momentous endeavor – a comprehensive five-year strategic planning process. Carefully constructed through student, faculty, staff, alumni and community involvement, the strategic plan has set the mission, vision, goals and values to help guide the College of Nursing to future success and prominence regionally, nationally and internationally.

As her lasting legacy Dean Patricia Burns leaves a successful, nationally-recognized College of Nursing built upon innovative education models, collaborative clinical partnerships, advanced practice graduate degree programs and a facilitative multi-disciplinary scientific research infrastructure.

– Story by Ashlea Hudak, College of Nursing Communications