Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, no one could have guessed that 2020 would become a historic, unforgettable year.
The irony that the World Health Organization designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife is not lost on any of us in the profession. The year 2020 was chosen in honor of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale. In a year designed to recognize the contributions of nurses and the risks associated with nursing shortages, media stories and social media posts share photos and tales of nurses risking their lives on the front line of this pandemic.
A world audience gained a deeper appreciation and respect for nurses. Through their personal protective equipment, nurses brought comfort to patients during their last moments. Nurses held the hands of patients dying of COVID-19 because family members could not be with them. Nurses’ voices, hearts, knowledge and skills were on full display for the world to see as they led on the front lines of compassionate care.
I am so proud of School of Nursing faculty members, staff, alumni and students who helped fulfill our mission of education, patient care and research during the pandemic. Our students began online courses following spring break. Nursing faculty quickly developed a virtual curriculum, adapting to online instruction without missing a beat. All clinical rotations in health care facilities had to be suspended due to personal protective equipment shortages. However, undergraduate students completed their learning objectives, demonstrating competency in a variety of ways. We worked to ensure undergraduate students graduated in a timely manner. We are working closely with our graduate students tailoring the program plans to meet their individual needs, while they not only worked as nurses, took care of families, and continued their graduate education.
Commencement ceremonies were canceled; however, we created a video acknowledging student successes and achievements in lieu of the in-person graduation ceremony.
This issue of Tribute magazine displays the incredible visionary work of our faculty, alumni and students throughout this past year. We are delighted to feature devoted School of Nursing friends and supporters—Karen and Ronald Herrmann and Barbara Wulfe—who have made transformative gifts, propelling us to new heights.
With the support of alumni and donors, we fulfill our missions of educating the next generation of nurse leaders, generating new knowledge to improve health and health care, and providing patient-centered, compassionate care.
Eileen T. Breslin l Ph.D., RN, FAAN
Dean and Professor
Dr. Patty L. Hawken Nursing Endowed Professor
School of Nursing
UT Health San Antonio