Dr. Barbara Grumet is currently the Executive Director of The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), which is responsible for the accreditation of post-secondary and higher degree nursing education schools and programs, including practical nursing, associate degree, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral programs.
Dr. Grumet holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from New York University School of Law. Although trained as a lawyer, she has spent her entire career in higher education as a professor and an administrator. Her academic disciplines are health care law, ethics, and health services administration. Dr. Grumet came to NLNAC in July, 2001, and before that was an Associate Provost at Long Island University, responsible for one of their branch campuses. For the previous 18 years she was a faculty member and Graduate Dean at The Sage Colleges in Troy and Albany, New York, where she taught graduate students in health services administration and nursing. She also had an adjunct faculty appointment at Albany Medical College, where she taught health care law and ethics to graduate nursing students, psychiatry residents, and medical students.
Dr. Grumet's Career
How have you defined career success for yourself? What have been your personal key(s) to success?
I have defined success for myself in very personal ways. I want to have an impact on my students. I want them to feel that I challenged, informed, and even inspired them. It is very exciting and gratifying to me to see "light bulbs go off" when students grasp a complex idea and begin to make connections between the classroom and their own professional lives. Most of my students have been adults, as opposed to traditional age college students, with significant professional and life experience. I learned as much from them as hopefully they learned from me.
I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve on a number of health care governing boards while I was in Albany. It was a great way to give back to the community, as well as learn what was going on first hand in health care.
I don't think I have reached the "final success" in my career. My current job is a great combination of all I have been doing professionally over the past 25 years – combining education, administration, and governance.
What would you consider your proudest accomplishments in the field? Have you had any major setbacks along the road?
I am proud of the changes I implemented at Sage while I was Graduate Dean. We began a research symposium, which is unusual for a master's level institution, that allowed students from 14 different Master's degree programs to come together to share the research they were doing in their programs.
Here at NLNAC we are streamlining the process, to make sure that our programs get the best possible value for their dollars. I am proud of the work I have done with the Commissioners, as they become stronger and more involved with the Commission as a corporation, as well as the important work of accrediting nursing programs.
What do you enjoy most about your job, your career?
What I enjoy most is getting to know the nurse administrators and nurse educators who are working so hard to educate the next generation of health care professionals. I also enjoy working with the Commissioners and other leaders in education from around the country.
What is a typical day of work for you entail? What are your key responsibilities?
My most important responsibility is to oversee the accreditation of 1500 of the nation's nursing education programs – Master's, Baccalaureate, Associate, Diploma, and Practical Nursing. A typical day includes working with the staff here at NLNAC on the day to day operations of the Commission, communicating with Commissioners, nurse educators, regulators, and higher education administrators and executives from around the country. I also talk with students who have questions about nursing as a career or are having problems with a particular nursing school. I do a lot of traveling around the country, working with our schools, attending meetings, etc.
Big question… Can you tell us in detail about the programs and degrees available in the field of nursing. Please include background and description, degree types, ranges of length of programs, cost ranges, admissions requirements, what careers these programs lead to, etc..
In a nutshell, since this is a big question... Nursing education began in hospital-based programs that combined education and on the job training. Students received a "diploma" following three years of study, but the diploma did not really give the graduate any academic degree. Baccalaureate programs, housed in universities, began in the early part of the 20th century. In the middle of the 20th century the diploma programs began to close. Community colleges began to offer associate degrees in nursing. Today it is possible to become a registered nurse by graduating from an Associate Degree program, a Baccalaureate program, or a Diploma program. Nursing is a very flexible career. Nurses work everywhere – in hospitals, clinics, physicians offices, private practice, community settings, industry, insurance companies, government, or teaching. The career is very flexible. Nurses can go on to get MBA or law degrees and move into administration, government, or policy positions.
How can high school students best prepare to get into nursing programs in America?
High school students need to prepare for nursing just like they do for any college major. First you get admitted to the college, then you take pre-nursing courses and do well in them before being admitted to the nursing major. Good background in science, math, and English are essential. Computer skills are a must. Foreign language proficiency is a plus in today's multicultural patient care settings.
How can career changers best prepare to get into nursing programs in America?
Career changers can frequently get admitted to nursing programs with advanced standing, since they probably already have at least a bachelor's degree in another field. Many of the liberal arts requirements are waived. Some nursing schools have programs, called Nursing Doctorate programs, designed just for career changers. Or the career changer can go to any nursing program.
Most nursing schools are local or regional – their students are drawn from the region, and their graduates stay in the region. The "top tier" schools are very research-oriented, and do draw students from national and international areas.
What is right and wrong with Nursing education in America today?
What is right? Nursing is a hot career these days, because there is a tremendous shortage of nurses that is only going to grow. Students can enter the profession after only 2 ½ years of educational preparation. Salaries are getting better. The work environment is very challenging and has lots of opportunities for growth.
What is wrong? The study is very challenging and stressful. Nursing is not for everyone!
What do you consider to be the three greatest challenges facing nursing professionals in the field today?
- The nursing shortage puts many pressures on the practicing nurse
- Nursing is a 24/7 profession
- Patients are sicker in hospitals today, and due to costs there is a lot of pressure to get them in and out as quickly as possible (the "sicker and quicker" phenomenon)
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a nursing school?
- Do you want an Associate's Degree or Bachelor's Degree to start?
- Where do you want to live? You should study in the area where you think you will want to work.
- What is the school's NCLEX (licensing exam) pass rate?
- What is the school's graduation rate? This is important because a school with a high pass rate may flunk everyone out).
- What kind of reputation do graduates of the program have in local hospitals?
- Where do the graduates work?
- How many of them go on to get advanced degrees?
- What do the students think of the program?
What are your opinions and ideas regarding the ranking of nursing schools?
The rankings I have seen are based on a few factors that may or may not be relevant to a student who is just starting her/his education. For example, the U.S. News list of the "best " nursing schools has large research universities. These schools are wonderful institutions, and their faculty do great research. This may or may not meet the needs of a freshman nursing student.
On the other hand, if the student is looking for a Master's degree or a doctorate, the "best" research schools may be a good place to try to be.