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Meet IU School of Nursing’s new associate dean

Wendy Miller Wendy MillerMeet the IU School of Nursing Bloomington’s new associate dean Wendy Miller, who said she’s “a Hoosier through-and-through.”

Originally from Judah, Indiana, just south of Bloomington, Miller has lived locally her whole life. She attended IU Bloomington as an undergraduate in the nursing program, so her appointment as associate dean “feels very much like a full-circle moment for me,” she said.

The School of Nursing recently sat down with Miller, who shared what she sees as the greatest opportunities facing the nursing profession and the IU School of Nursing in Bloomington, as well as her vision for the road ahead.

Question: What do you see as the greatest opportunities facing the nursing profession?

Answer: Nursing has been at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has unearthed and magnified the challenges and opportunities facing the profession, while also creating unprecedented ones. I see a clear opportunity for nurse leaders to organize to use this unprecedented moment to clarify what nursing is and does.

However, the immediate priority must be protecting the mental and physical health of nurses and providing safe working conditions. This is also a very challenging environment for new nursing graduates entering the profession, and we must consider how best to prepare and support them.

Another challenge that is also more of an opportunity is for nursing to be included at the forefront of efforts to improve health equity in the United States. Nurses are perfectly situated to identify and help address social determinants of health that affect health outcomes, and there is a need for far more research and policy making in this area.

Q: What do you see as the biggest opportunities facing the IU School of Nursing Bloomington, its students and its faculty?

A: Nationwide, there is an urgent need for more nurses in a variety of roles — direct patient care, advanced practice, education, research — and there is a desire for schools of nursing to prepare as many nurses, practicing at all levels, as possible.

One opportunity IU School of Nursing Bloomington has long faced is expanding our nursing program. We are making huge strides in this area, thanks to the current and prior leaders in the school and community, but there is still a need for expansion.

However, we (and many other schools of nursing) are limited in the number of students we can accept based on a myriad of factors, including clinical placement sites and faculty.

I look forward to working with area health systems to continue to grow our enrollment, and the Health Sciences Building being attached to the Regional Academic Health Center is a very good first step. We have an extraordinarily talented faculty and staff here in Bloomington, and I look forward to creatively working on this opportunity with them and the health systems in our community.

Q: What are your goals for the School of Nursing on the Bloomington campus?

A: My overarching goal is for the School of Nursing in Bloomington to contribute to the School of Nursing’s university-wide mission by using attributes that are unique to the Bloomington campus. IU Bloomington is exceedingly blessed with research expertise in many areas, including health and the social sciences. I look forward to our nursing faculty and students becoming more involved in research collaborations with these faculty.

Another important goal is to have the school become more visible and active on the Bloomington campus and in the Bloomington community; the new Regional Academic Health Center leaves us well-positioned for that. Our mission flows from a well-supported, well-developed, innovative faculty and staff, and my goal is for us to achieve that together as a student-centered School of Nursing campus. Specific goals here include program expansion, faculty and staff recruitment and retention, and increased research and scholarship opportunities for both faculty and students.

I am so happy and excited to be coming back to IU Bloomington in this leadership role and look forward to working with the School of Nursing Bloomington’s outstanding faculty, staff and students.