Posted on Aug 23, 2019

Teamwork and Common Ground Highlighted at Opening Day 2019

Teamwork and Common Ground Highlighted at Opening Day 2019

The University of South Florida’s College of Nursing kicked off its 2019-2020 academic year with a flurry of Opening Day presentations that touched on creating a culture of civility, the “secret sauce” behind metrics in college rankings, and how interprofessional education and practice can drive patient safety.

While the topics were varied, the day’s theme was clear: Every single faculty and staff member has an important role in contributing to the college’s success.

“What’s most important is how we value everyone in this room. Nothing can be successful without trust and integrity for each other,” said College of Nursing Dean Victoria L. Rich, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is entering her third year as leader of the college.

Dr. Rich addressed the nearly 100 faculty and staff members attending the annual event, emphasizing that it has been a year of change at the college with the introduction of the new vice dean roles. She said she is pleased with where the college is positioned, but cautioned that there are huge challenges ahead, including opening up nursing programs at two other campuses – St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee.

“The people in this room are also the role models who are the caregivers of the world. And so if we can’t have that respect and integrity for each other and maybe for ourselves, it makes it difficult. It is who I am. And I’m trying very hard to be that role model for each of you,” she said.

Dr. Haru Okuda, executive director for USF Health Interprofessional Education and Practice, and Phillip Wortham, director of operations for the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), talked about the importance of health care workers getting out of their silos to train and work together.

Ultimately, training as a team, coupled with high reliability, is the key to improving patient safety and quality, they said.

“Valuing every single person on the team is so important, and we don’t do that enough in health care,” said Dr. Okuda. “All of you have such great influence on your students to really make a difference on how we set the mindset of the students.”

Discussions about the need for teamwork continued with Dr. Pritish Mukherjee, vice provost and associate vice president of strategic talent recruitment, university reputation and impact at USF, who gave a detailed analysis on what USF needs to do to improve its national ranking.

Through plotted graphs and magic mapping, Dr. Mukherjee showed how using a mathematical model can pinpoint what it takes to be ranked among the top 25 public universities in the all-important U.S. News & World Report ranking.

But rankings aside, the key to improving as a university or department is to know who and what you want to be, he said.

“No single ranking will let you know whether you’re an amazing institution or if you’re an institution that needs a lot of work,” said Dr. Mukherjee.  

The former chairman of the USF Physics Department offered a new way to look at rankings and concluded by sharing the analogy of a rubber sheet lying on the ground. He explained that the best way to raise the sheet up is not by grabbing a corner and pulling. But the logical way is to pull together.

“It’s a very powerful message, because every single person that’s here, they have a role to play. It may not show up explicitly in terms of the metrics, but implicitly it’s affecting where we are in terms of this ranking and others,” he said.

The message of a common goal and mutual respect was echoed by Instructor Oscar Bernard, PhD, who updated the group on the college’s ongoing civility initiative.

In May, the college surveyed the level of civility within the organization. Since then, members of the college’s civility team have been working to create tangible ways to improve the culture of civility within the college.

Dr. Bernard, who heads the committee, said their main goal is to make sure every team member feels valued.

“We want to make sure we have a culture where everyone knows that they’re valued and needed,” he said. “Civility is often elusive and kind of difficult for us to figure out and even to put words to. Civility is all about common ground.”

Aside from the featured speakers, Opening Day event organizers also welcomed the 20 new faculty and staff members who have joined the college over the past year and gave out 31 faculty and staff awards in various categories, including innovative teaching, simulation excellence, and outstanding staff leadership.

Alan Todd, DNP, CRNA, CHSE, a College of Nursing assistant professor and head of the awards committee, announced the winners of the annual faculty and staff awards.

The following people were recognized:

Elizabeth Lee Brown, Friend of Nursing Award

Bethany Tucker, Mentor in Teaching Award

Harleah Buck, Mentor in Research Award and Established Investigator Award

Ken Wofford, Innovative Teaching Award

Natasha Zurcher, Clinical Teaching Excellence Award and Undergraduate Academic Nurse Educator Award

Megan Heskett, New Instructor Award

Oscar Bernard, Undergraduate Academic Nurse Educator Award and Faculty Leadership Award

Marcia Johansson, Graduate Academic Nurse Educator Award, DNP Project Mentor Award, and Professional Service Award

Leslie Lockett, Online Teacher Award

Danielle Beasley, Simulation Excellence Award

Allyson Duffy, Outstanding New Investigator Award

Alicia Rossiter, Clinical/Teaching Article of the Year Award

Ivonne Hernandez, Outstanding Service Award, Community Service Award, and Dean’s Diversity Enhancement Award

Kimberly Brown, Outstanding Staff Service Award

Julia Myers, Outstanding Staff Leadership Award

Ashley Sanford, Outstanding Staff Teamwork Award and Superior Job Performance Award

Katie Muniz, Outstanding New Staff Award

Jyoti Rao, Outstanding New Staff Award

Liz Conrad, Staff of the Year Award and Empowerment Award

Judy Plazarin, True Unsung Hero Award

Becky Gubernick, Outstanding Collaborator Award

Zuzana Moore, Outstanding Innovation Award

Xavier Ramos, Rising Star Award

Michelle Canale, Clochesy-Miller Award for Scholarly Writing

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing