UTHSC College of Nursing Achieves National Recognition as Center of Excellence

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UTHSC is among 23 nursing centers of excellence from across the country recognized by the NLN
UTHSC is among 23 nursing centers of excellence from across the country recognized by the NLN.

The National League for Nursing (NLN) has recognized the high standards of education in the UTHSC College of Nursing by designating the college as an NLN Center of ExcellenceTM in the category of Enhancing Student Learning and Professional Development. The designation is for a four-year term: 2021-2025.

“This recognition is a reflection of our college’s commitment to the student experience and educating high-quality, well-prepared nurses,” said Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, dean of the UTHSC College of Nursing. “We have a long history of innovation in our curriculum and programming that focuses on the quality of our graduates. This recognition is a tremendous honor. I would like to thank Dr. Melody Waller for leading the college in this effort and all of the faculty members who participated.”

UTHSC is among 23 nursing centers of excellence from across the country recognized by the NLN in today’s announcement. Formal recognition will be made during the 2021 NLN education Summit September 25.

“The NLN is the go-to organization for many colleges of nursing, and we are now set as an exemplar for other schools in the area who may want to improve their efforts in this category,” said Assistant Professor Melody Waller, PhD, RN, who headed the college’s Center of Excellence task force.

The NLN Centers of Excellence in Nursing Education Program recognizes schools that have achieved a level of excellence in one of four areas: Promoting the pedagogical expertise of faculty, promoting the academic progression of nurses, advancing the science of nursing education, and enhancing student learning and professional development. Previously, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing was the only college of nursing in Tennessee recognized as a center of excellence, named in the category of pedagogical expertise of faculty.

Dr. Waller said that the variety of sustained initiatives within the college greatly contributed to achieving the Center of Excellence designation. At the undergraduate level, she cited the successful implementation of a concept-based curriculum for didactic education and the number of dedicated education units (DEU) for clinical education. A DEU is one floor or unit of a health care facility devoted entirely to students from a single nursing program and staffed by a consistent group of nurses who are provided professional development as educators. The college has six DEUs in the Memphis metropolitan area.

In the college, successful grant applications by researchers support the strategic goals of the college. For example, a $50,000 grant for sickle cell education will support the development of a sickle cell boot camp for nurses. “We are building in a lot of specific areas of excellence, where not a lot of colleges have focused, and this helps us to stand out,” Dr. Waller said.

Another area that helps the college to stand out is the Center for Global and Community Partnerships, which includes the St. Jude Global Partnership, the Libertas School Partnership, the Nurse Scholars program, community grants that allow bedside nurses to do research, the Regional One Partnership, and the Public Health Nurse Residency, Dr. Waller said. Being recognized as a center of excellence “confirms that the things we are doing are innovative and outstanding in comparison to other colleges,” she said.