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Boston-Leary to Nursing Grads: We've Come A Long Way

May 30, 2018    |  

According to one job description from 1887, nurses were responsible for caring for 50 patients, sweeping and mopping the ward’s floors, dusting patients’ furniture and window sills, maintaining an even temperature in the ward by “bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day’s business,” filling kerosene lamps, trimming their wicks, and cleaning chimneys.

From left, Bruce Jarrell, Janet D. Allan, Lisa Rowen, and Jane M. Kirschling. Rowen was awarded the 2018 Dean's Medal for Distinguished Service.

From left, Bruce Jarrell, Janet D. Allan, Lisa Rowen, and Jane M. Kirschling. Rowen was awarded the 2018 Dean's Medal for Distinguished Service.

Katie Boston-Leary, MHA, MBA, BSN, CNOR, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, University of Maryland Capital Region Health, shared the job description with graduates of the Class of 2018 as the keynote speaker for the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s (UMSON) Convocation ceremony May 18 at Royal Farms Arena.

Reading from the job description, Boston-Leary continued, “Graduate nurses in good standing with the director will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if you regularly attend church services. Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty parlor, or frequents dance halls will give the director good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity.”

Then she told the graduates, “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?” By comparison, today’s bedside nurse cares for about six patients and doesn’t need his or her director’s approval for courting, Boston-Leary said. “We have a much more improved profile and image of nurses than two to three centuries ago. There are certainly more of us. We are more educated than before and there are more structures for empowerment with shared governance models.”

But what will the “nurse of tomorrow” be required to do?

“What will our patients require of us given the challenges and miscues of the current system? The answer is more,” Boston-Leary said. “More communication, more customer service, more safety, and fewer  errors. Health care consumers want the same efficiencies they experience in other industries. The pressure is going to increase as operating margins get tighter, budgets get smaller, and the demands get higher and higher. What type of nurse will the future health care system require?

“Do not reduce the profession to a collection of tasks. Every interaction and intervention is you building your legacy.”

In her own welcoming remarks to graduates and their families, UMSON Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, said the day marked an entrée to opportunity.

“To those of you receiving your first degree in nursing, we offer very sincere congratulations,” Kirschling said. “You begin your careers at a time when nursing presents unparalleled possibilities — no other profession offers such a diverse range of career paths and opportunities for professional advancement.

“Very few professions afford you the privilege of having as significant an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities as nursing does. On behalf of the school, I hope you will be as happy and fulfilled in your nursing careers as I have been.”

The 409 degrees awarded by UMSON included 201 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), 84 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), 104 Master of Science (MS), eight PhDs, and 12 certificate graduates.

Kirschling reminded graduates that they did not reach the milestone of graduating without the help and support of others.

“While you most assuredly deserve the awards we bestow upon you today, you must also acknowledge that you did not reach this moment alone,” she said. “Throughout this journey, you relied on the support, encouragement, and sacrifices of your family, friends, and classmates who gave you the confidence to persevere, especially when you were sleep-deprived, juggling many responsibilities, and didn’t think you would make it. So, graduates, please turn and thank those who supported you in your journey to be here today.”

The graduates happily did as instructed and spent several moments waving to their family and friends seated in the arena.

The 2018 Dean’s Medal for Distinguished Service was awarded to Lisa Rowen, DNSc, MS ’86, RN, CENP, FAAN, chief nurse executive of the University of Maryland Medical System and senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center. The annual award, presented for only the second time this year, recognizes individuals external to the institution who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing the School of Nursing and its mission.

“What has so deeply impacted the School of Nursing and supported my efforts as dean is the way in which she has done her work and all that she has been able to accomplish because of this,” Kirschling said of Rowen. “It is my hope that her style of leadership, her dedication to nursing, and her deep caring for those she comes in contact with will serve as an example and inspiration to you and others and encourage you to contribute to nursing in your own unique ways.”

A bronze medal featuring the bowl of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, the award draws upon the same imagery that appears on the School of Nursing pin that graduates receive. The medal was handcrafted by Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, executive vice president, provost, and dean of the Graduate School at UMB. Jarrell, a surgeon by training, is an accomplished metalsmith and member of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland. He has made numerous creations on campus, including the School of Nursing’s ceremonial mace.

The national anthem was performed by William Sutton, DNP graduate. Heather Dunning, a fellow DNP graduate, was the student remarker.

“Not one of us is the same person that we were when we arrived here,” Dunning told her classmates. “These years have transformed us. But the same can also be said of the world at large. Our nation has changed in many ways since we first came here. This group of graduates, perhaps more so than in years before, may be called to heal far deeper wounds than what we see in day-to-day practice. This is a challenge that I know our great University has prepared us to face.”

The class’ eight PhD graduates — Rachel Breman, Lauren Covington, Amy Daniels, Ana Duarte, Elizabeth Heetderks, Stacey Iobst, Marik Moen, and Tracy Zvenyach, — composed the largest PhD class in UMSON history. All but Heetderks, who had given birth to a boy that day, were hooded in an earlier ceremony May 17 at UMB’s Southern Management Corporation Campus Center.

The Class of 2018 also included 13 Conway Scholars who had received prestigious full scholarships coving tuition, fees, and books for their BSN: Sean Abraham, Maria Claver, Brandy Cumberland, Gabriela Herrera, Nayeon Kim, Elizabeth Lane, Melanie Lee, Esther Mantey, Concillia Ngang, Tam Nguyen, Sarah Romecki, Emily Streett, and Kelli Streett.

The Streetts are part of another rare group of students who received degrees at the UMSON ceremony that morning. They’re one of four sets of twins who graduated as part of the UMSON BSN Class of 2018; the others are Brooke and Taylor Tauber, Danielle and Haley Szoke, and Carly and Danielle Puth. A segment about the graduating twins aired on WBAL-TV that evening.