When Temple began offering the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree 50 years ago, it was at a time when the function of nurses differed from their current multifaceted role as “the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare journey together,” according to the American Nurses Association.
At the 50th anniversary celebration on Thursday, April 5, leaders in the field and the Department of Nursing looked back at the past half-century of nursing and shared their thoughts on the years ahead, which promise a continued shift toward community-based care.
“As we reimagine 21st-century nursing at Temple University, we look to our neighbors and the communities we serve in North Philadelphia and elsewhere; we bring new vigor to valued and established partnerships; and we commit to new collaborations in the community that allow us to serve and allow us to learn,” said Martha Kubik, David R. Devereaux Professor and director of the Department of Nursing.
Attendees gathered in the Medicine Education and Research Building of the Health Sciences Center, where they dined on hors d’oeuvres to the backing of a live band and mingled with fellow students and guests. The celebration featured conversations with an award-winning documentarian, nursing professionals, healthcare executives and community leaders. The role of nurses in the community, including Temple’s role in North Philadelphia and the surrounding area, was a key theme across the night’s speakers.
“Our faculty and students are contributing to improved health outcomes for local residents, building enduring relationships within these communities, and reinforcing the idea that health and wellness promotion extends far beyond traditional clinical settings,” said Laura A. Siminoff, dean of the College of Public Health and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Public Health.
Before the ceremony, current BSN students heard from Carolyn Jones, filmmaker and creator of The American Nurse Project, a book and feature-length documentary that explores the stories of nurses through film and photography. In the discussion, Jones shared stories from her time working on the project, which she began in 2012, and urged the future nurses to make their voices heard.
“We need the voices of nurses to be really noisy,” said Jones, who was inspired to tell the stories of nurses based on her firsthand experience undergoing chemotherapy. “It’s important that you’re really loud about what you’re doing: be on panels, start groups, go into the community, be a leader. You have to let your voice be heard and let people know that you are there.”
Jones also delivered the keynote address during the anniversary ceremony, where she spoke to a wider audience of nursing alumni, faculty, and staff. She related stories from the five nurses she followed for the film, who represent a spectrum of healthcare: caring for home health patients in Appalachia, soldiers returning from war, mothers giving birth, nursing home patients at the end of life, and maximum-security prison inmates.
After the keynote was a panel discussion about community-based nursing led by Elizabeth Craig, Vice President for Patient Services and the Chief Nursing Executive at Temple University Hospital; Reverend Lorina Marshall-Blake, President of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and Vice President of Community Affairs for Independence Blue Cross; Reverend Renee McKenzie-Hayward, Vicar of the Church of the Advocate and Chaplain of Temple University; and Terri Lipman, pediatric nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Associate Director of the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
“The communities that we work with—they trust us,” said Marshall-Blake. “It’s so important to be honest with them.”
The panel also talked about the future of nursing and nurse education, a topic that Kubik discussed in her opening remarks.
“Our challenge as nurse educators is to prepare our students to master compassionate care and technology, to master care at the bedside and care of a community,” she said.