Interview with Carol Winters-Moorhead, Ph.D., RN

Interview with Carol Winters-Moorhead, Ph.D., RN

Introduction and Career  |   Nursing Education


Introduction and Career

Tell us about how and why you got into nursing and about how your career has progressed?

Approximately one half of my life has been spent as a teacher and/or administrator in professional, career-related educational programs within colleges and universities.

For the past 13 years, I have had the unique opportunity to serve as dean at a small independent college that merged into a internationally diverse, moderate -sized university where teaching, utilizing full-time and adjunct faculty who are experts in their fields, student-centered learning, service and career preparation, and response to and partnerships with the community are among its priorities.

Preceding entrance into doctoral studies, I taught in a community college as one of two experienced faculty members in a new PN/ADN program. Later, while a full-time faculty member and professional academic advisor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh, I earned a Ph.D. degree in Higher Education with dual concentrations (and internships) in university and college teaching/ curriculum development and student affairs.

In the fall of 1990, I relocated from my home state of North Carolina to Hawaii to assume the leadership of a baccalaureate nursing program that had been denied (1988) National League for Nursing (NLN) accreditation. Within one intensive year of team-building, organizational restructuring, negotiating, soliciting funding and resources from the college, community, and the state, extensive curricular revisions, policy making and documentation, we produced a credible self study report resulting in a successful site visit that led to initial accreditation for the maximum period. I consider this the most ambitious and significant accomplishment of my career as an academic administrator.

During the 1991-1992 academic year, I was elected (although an administrator) as the chair of the college's faculty assembly. Along with that honor came the opportunity and challenge to serve as the faculty representative to the college's Board of Trustees.

The Board received fund-raising training and then entered merger discussions and negotiations with Hawaii Pacific University (HPU). A merger occurred in July 1992 and H. P. U. acquired a newly accredited, strong yet costly nursing program.

At that point, my primary challenge as dean was to convince HPU of the value of maintaining this professional program. Again I solicited support from the health care agencies in the community via testimonials and funding pledges. I attribute success to the committed and collaborative efforts of my faculty and administrative team.

Since the merger, I have been dean of a rapidly expanding School of Nursing with undergraduate and graduate programs (initiated in1998) within an internationally diverse university that has students from over 106 countries. Student enrollments have increased from 114 to over 800 students, making our School of Nursing the largest in the State. For the past 10 years, I have also assumed the duties as Dean of Academic Administration for its residential Hawaii Loa campus. The latest achievement has been the establishment of a Faculty Support Center to assist faculty with the logistics and preparation for teaching on this campus.

Achieving the academic rank of Professor involved years of undergraduate and graduate teaching, curriculum development and assessment, research and scholarly activities, publications and presentations, as well as school, college, professional and community leadership and service. Not only was the process rewarding, but also for me it was enjoyable. In short, I thrive as a creative and active leader and member of a diverse learning community.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

Among the highlights of my quest as a life-long learner was selection as a participant in 1997 Harvard University's Management Development Program. Through the comprehensive sessions we, as academic leaders, discussed and debated the prevalent issues in post secondary and higher education.

As the Dean of Nursing at HPU, I have been fortunate to have been invited to travel to Tokyo for a cultural exchange experience with Tokyo Women's Medical College School of Nursing faculty and students, to Kathmandu, Nepal as a member of a professional project team sent by the Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, and to Oslo and Trondheim, Norway to facilitate nursing study abroad experiences at HPU. Being a member of the HPU International Chorale also provides me the opportunity to interact with students of various majors as well as enhances my learning about new cultures and languages.

Under my leadership, examples of program innovation and implementation within the School of Nursing include the extensive revisions in curriculum, policies and structure of the BSN program to achieve initial (and continuing) NLNAC accreditation; creating a 23-Month Accelerated BSN Pathway; establishing the Nursing Cooperative Educational Program with community healthcare agency partners; establishing a community partnership to provide a combination of traditional and Native Hawaiian healing clinics on the North Shore of the island of O'ahu for the uninsured and underinsured residents; revitalizing the RN to BSN and the LPN to BSN Pathways; implementing of the Master's of Science in Nursing Program (including the community- based FNP and CNS concentrations) introducing the dual MSN/MBA and MSN/MSIS degree options, the RN to MSN Pathway and the Post Master's Certificate Program; obtaining HRSA federal graduate student traineeships and a Campus Compact Grant to introduce Service-Learning into the School of Nursing and throughout the university; and establishing the Transcultural Nursing Center within the university.


Nursing Education

Please tell us about nursing education in Hawaii and Nursing School Accreditation.

The education of nurses in Hawaii follows a similar path to that of the rest of the United States in that it began with the hospital schools of nursing. In the 1950's and 1960s, nursing education relocated to the colleges and universities where it remains today. There no longer exists any diploma-granting hospital schools of nursing in Hawaii. The only educational routes to becoming licensed as a Registered Nurse (granted after passing the national nursing licensure exam-NCLEX-RN) are the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree offered most often at community colleges and the Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree offered at colleges and universities.

In an effort to establish and maintain high standards of nursing education, a system of voluntary and peer accreditation was established. The National League for Nursing initiated this accreditation process and continues to conduct accreditation reviews for practical (PN), associate (ADN), baccalaureate (BSN), and graduate (MSN) degree programs as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Recently, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education entered into the accreditation arena for baccalaureate and master's degree nursing programs.

Though I support schools of nursing having choices in their accreditation bodies, there is confusion about accreditation (as well as the different educational levels for RNs) not only among the schools but also in the parent institutions and in the general public. Because the process of accreditation is an expensive and time-consuming one the question arises, how many accreditations does one school need to have to document the quality of its programs?

Do you have any final thoughts to share with aspiring nurses?

Years ago there was an advertisement that stated, "If caring were enough, anybody could be a nurse."

I do not believe that everyone has the capacity to care for those who are ill, depressed, crabby or afraid. Some need to learn to have compassion. Much more is required of today and tomorrow's professional nurse.

High school students need to plan ahead if they want to succeed in their collegiate nursing programs. The nursing curriculum is among the most rigorous within the college or university. While in high school, students need to cultivate excellent writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. They can do this by taking as many high level and advanced placement English, math and science classes as is possible in their schools. In addition, volunteering in a healthcare agency provides high school, transfer, or career-changer students with beneficial exposure to the roles and responsibilities of professional nurses and other health team members.

Dr. Winters-Moorhead is Professor and Dean at Hawaii Pacific University's School of Nursing.

Related Articles