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Nursing director moves from vision to action

Jennifer Medves has served as the director of the School of Nursing and vice-dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences since 2009. Among Dr. Medves’ many accomplishments during her first term was leading the school to the highest level of accreditation. Now appointed for a second five-year term, Dr. Medves sits down with Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer, to reflect on her first term and discuss some of her goals for the next several years.

Mark Kerr: Why did you want to serve another five-year term?

Jennifer Medves: I felt that after five years we have all of the outside validations we need; now the next five years is really about putting that vision and strategy into practice. Nursing is at a crossroads in Canada, especially baccalaureate nursing. Over the next five to 10 years we are going to see far more baccalaureate-prepared nurses working in the community. I want to be in a position where I can help with that transition and make a difference.

MK: What are you most proud of from your first term as director of the School of Nursing?

JM: I’m really proud that external and internal reviews showed that we have very good programs. We received seven years of accreditation with no interim report from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing. We’ve never had that before. We went through the Queen’s University Quality Assurance Process (QUQAP) at the same time and the reviews were excellent for both our undergraduate and graduate programs. The QUQAP review team identified what we may consider for the future rather than what we had done in the past.

I’m also happy with the faculty we have managed to recruit. They are incredible scholars who are passionate about nursing. I feel this is a school moving in a different research direction and that’s a positive.

MK: How is Queen’s responding specifically to changes in nursing?

JM: Queen’s has been very responsive over the years to changes in society. We’ve always had a very strong basic science-based program. The more advanced health care becomes, the more important it is to recognize that health disciplines are based in basic science. We have always kept that strong mandate.

We have also tried to provide the nursing students with other opportunities, particularly around the humanities. Starting this year our students are going to take a first-year philosophy course. The course is structured along historical lines and they will study theorists including Plato, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke and others. We are really excited because nurses not only need to know the science behind why they are doing things, but they also have to understand the art, ethics and society values.

MK: What goals have you set for your second term?

[Jennifer Medves]

JM: I am very interested in promoting interdisciplinary programs across the university. We have a Master of Science in Healthcare Quality that is truly interdisciplinary. We are now working on a diploma, master’s and PhD program in aging and health. I am working together with the director of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy as well as faculty from engineering, arts and science and health care. My other goal is to develop a nurse practitioner master’s program focused on nursing, mental health and addictions, which would be a first in Canada. Overall, we need to think about different, innovative linkages that address societal needs such as mental health and aging.

I would also like to expand partnerships with other universities that offer nursing programs and offer a clinical rotation and elective for students internationally. The latter is quite difficult to organize because of licensing requirements, but we’re going to try.

MK: What do you like about this role?

JM: I enjoy this position because I get to work with colleagues across the university. You begin to recognize the strengths of Queen’s and some of the concerns for the university that you can collectively work on.

Every September I see a bright group of students come into the program, full of enthusiasm and wanting to learn. If you have been in the job for a while like me, you see them graduate and witness their incredible growth as individuals. Some of them won’t stay in nursing, but we know wherever they go they will be influenced by their nursing education.

And I love coming to work and listening to my colleagues talk about their research. I don’t have the time to do as much research as I did when I was an Ontario scholar, but that doesn’t matter because I can help facilitate the work of others. I love hearing about the nutty problems they sometimes have with statistical analysis.

I also like the philosophical discussions about nursing education. A faculty member and I have a list of five articles we would love to write but we are too busy at the moment. I hope in the next five years we get some time to do that kind of writing.