CalSouthern is pleased to announce the establishment of its School of Nursing. Dr. Judith McLeod has been named dean of the new school, which will begin offering degrees in the first quarter of 2016, pending approval by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. The initial degrees to be offered will be a Bachelor of Science of Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Dr. McLeod has nursing in her blood; her passion for the profession can be traced to her childhood dinner table, where she was fascinated by stories told by her mother, also a nurse. She left home to attend nursing school at the age of 17, attending the nursing program at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University (where she would return years later to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice).
Her long and successful nursing career has spanned four decades and a wide variety of practice areas. Her areas of expertise include pediatrics, labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, occupational and physical therapy, rheumatology and gastroenterology, among others. As part of her doctoral work, Dr. McLeod developed an early screening tool for juvenile fibromyalgia, reducing the time required to identify and refer a patient to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment from approximately nine months to four to six weeks.
Dr. McLeod has also been involved in higher education for more than a decade. She has taught at the university level since 2001 and has academic leadership experience, as well, having directed nursing degree programs at the associate, bachelor's and master's levels.
A number of factors led Dr. McLeod to join CalSouthern. First and foremost among them, however, was the university's culture. “The culture is very unique and very striking,” she explains. “Among the staff, there's a wonderful feeling of positivity and a willingness to work together. Above all—and this permeates every school and every department—everyone is learner focused. I found this mindset to be very compelling and quite refreshing.”
CalSouthern's BSN is primarily a completion degree designed for registered nurses who have yet to earn their bachelor's. This is particularly important in light of the healthcare industry's Magnet Recognition Program (MRP) requiring that 80 percent of Magnet-status hospitals' staff nurses hold a BSN or higher by the year 2020. The BSN's curriculum is innovative; it combines courses offering foundational nursing theory with others emphasizing the latest practical skills and knowledge required in practice. It also integrates courses from the Schools of Behavioral Sciences and Business, allowing students to supplement their core curriculum with electives in mental health care, management, healthcare administration and leadership, among others.
The MSN is ideal for registered nurses who aspire to leadership or educational positions within the healthcare industry, which is increasingly requiring nurses at more senior levels of management to have a master's degree. Like the BSN, it is unique in that it's a multi-disciplinary program that enables students, if they so choose, to customize their program by incorporating electives from the Schools of Behavioral Science and Business. A capstone project will allow learners to develop additional specialized expertise in an area of particular interest.
“First of all, the MSN will make you a stronger nurse,” explains Dr. McLeod. “And if you want to be a nurse leader, we can take you there with courses in strategic management and leadership. Others might want to supplement their nursing courses with electives in healthcare administration and finance. The opportunity exists to tailor your program to your particular career goals and interests within nursing and healthcare.”
Dr. McLeod is understandably eager to welcome her initial class of nursing students in the first quarter of 2016, and she is already mindful of the broader impact the programs will have. “I look forward to enriching our learners' lives and enhancing their nursing practices, empowering them to then positively influence other nurses with the knowledge and skills they attain at CalSouthern.”