Weathering the storm

Linda McCauley
Dean Linda McCauley

Perhaps we will emerge from these rocky times a little weary, but our focus to graduate exemplary nursing leaders will not waiver.

Greetings, alumni. I'm honored to be named dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and I hope each of you will join us at our alumni events here over the coming months so I can meet you.

This is an exciting time for me as I take on the new opportunity of serving as dean. This is also the most challenging and uncertain time many of us have faced. Just about every week on the evening news, I hear of another company laying off workers. Unemployment has risen to a level most of us have never seen before. I am grateful to be in a field with many open positions, both clinical and educational.

Granted, even though nurses are in demand, we will not be immune to the downturn in the economy. Veteran nurses who had left full-time work are re-entering the workforce, and many who had planned to retire are holding onto their positions. Nursing students, who previously had their choice of jobs, may find themselves choosing their second or third option. New graduates increasingly are looking for positions outside of the hospital, since almost half of all RNs now work in other settings, including community health, ambulatory care, nursing homes, schools, and businesses. Overall, though, there are still plenty of open positions to choose from. The media has picked up on that fact recently, naming nursing as a recession-proof job. 

Nurses, like everyone in health care, will be contending with fewer resources and a heavier workload. Nursing faculty will need to find creative ways to fund research, as the NIH budget remains flat. It is promising, though, to see new research funding proposals from the Obama administration in its economic stimulus package. Faculty in our school have been busy responding to these opportunities. 

While some nursing schools report 20% to 40% cuts in expenditures, reductions in workforce, and decreased enrollments, we have not faced such drastic cuts. We certainly have “tightened our belts” and watchedour expenditures very closely—and we expect to continue doing so for at least the next year. We’ll weather this financial storm. Perhaps we will emerge from these rocky times a little weary, but our focus to graduate exemplary nursing leaders will not waiver.  

That commitment to students is one of the biggest reasons I chose to come to Emory. I have a list of priorities that I want to fulfill for the school (see the story "New dean comes to town"). Even during this difficult time, we still have many opportunities to grow and prosper. I look forward to working with each of you as we move ahead.

Dean Linda McCauley
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing 

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winter 2010