Public-health expert Bobbie Berkowitz chosen as new nursing dean

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As an educator, Berkowitz says that she aims to inspire nurses to push for better health-care delivery and public policy, as informed by their close contact with patients and their families. “I want nurses to have questioning intellects,” she says. “I want them to go into work every day and to be thinking: Is this the right way to do things for my patients, for their families, and for this community? Is the system working? Could it be better? I don’t want them to accept the standard ways of practicing medicine, but to be always thinking critically about how to improve care for those patients.”

Berkowitz will succeed Mary O’Neil Mundinger ’81PH, who announced last fall that she would step down after 24 years as dean. Mundinger is credited with building the School of Nursing into one of the country’s preeminent institutions of nursing education. The school is widely recognized for its clinical doctoraldegree program, which was the fi rst of its kind when established in 2004. It trains “advanced-practice nurses” who perform duties once reserved for doctors, like diagnosing illness and prescribing medication. Mundinger will remain on the school’s faculty, as the Centennial Professor in Health Policy.

“Columbia has set the gold standard for education of advancedpractice nurses in this country,” Berkowitz says. “It was Mary who initially got everybody in the field thinking about what nurses are capable of.” Columbia’s nursing school also offers a PhD program that trains nurse-scholars who conduct research on the profession and help implement best practices in hospitals and other clinical settings. Says Berkowitz: “I’m committed to making sure that Columbia continues to produce nurses who perform at the peak of their abilities.”

DJC

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