Dean’s Letter | Spring 2023

Dean Linda Scott

It is an honor to lead the UW–Madison School of Nursing at this special time in our history as we approach our centennial year, 2024. This milestone is an opportunity to celebrate the impact that our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have had on the health of populations by developing knowledge, providing care, informing policy, and on advancing the nursing profession itself.

As we prepare for our centennial year, we are spending 2023 reflecting on the legacy of excellence that has resulted from nearly a century of leadership and innovation in nursing education. Since 1924, the School of Nursing has continuously adapted its programs and curricula in response to evolving public health needs, changing and aging populations, and to prepare leaders for increasingly complex health systems.

The School of Nursing has a rich and impressive history of faculty members who have risen to the challenge and opportunity of defining and redefining academic nursing. Under the direction of Helen Denne (Schulte), the first leaders of the School of Nursing set the standard—and their expectations—at nothing short of excellence. Our committed faculty then supported, mentored, and modeled that in all aspects of nursing. That commitment to teaching and mentoring students into the profession remains one of the School’s greatest strengths.

Students with a deep commitment to meeting the health needs of their time have always brought passion and an intrepid readiness to assume the role of leader and advocate as nurses and nurse scientists. And, as our mission and the impact of our alumni still reflect, they have done so in the profession and society.

Throughout the decades, the School has leveraged new technologies and led in the delivery of nursing programs. This form of educational innovation has resulted in wider reach for the School and it has provided greater access to our offerings. This remains a benefit for degree-earning populations as well as those seeking continuing education.

During the pandemic, strategic use of technology was instrumental to continuity in course delivery, student progress, and ensuring mastery of skills when on-site clinical education was limited. We continue to equip our teaching and learning environment with state-of-the-art resources and expertise to ensure that we are educating practice-ready nurses. Increasingly, preparation for the demands of modern health care includes expanded use of simulation, which is key to students’ mastery of skills and confidence with clinical judgment.

This issue of ForwardNursing focuses on our history and legacy as well as our promising current state. It is both interesting and inspiring to read about the milestones of our past co-mingled with snapshots of today’s successes and points of pride. These features demonstrate that while we and our graduates have continued to advance nursing education, science, and practice, our contributions are an extension of the progress that came before us.

When I announced the School’s Centennial Celebration and Campaign in 2021, I said, “As alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and supporters of the School of Nursing, we should look back proudly at our legacy of nurse leaders that have advanced us as a School, improved health, and contributed so much to the nursing profession. The successes of our first 100 years position us to look resolutely toward our future knowing there is still so much we can do.”

I am, indeed, proud to honor and build upon the legacy of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. Thank you for your part in all we have done and still aspire to do! The School of Nursing is preparing the next generation of Badger nurses whose leadership will change lives in a future that transforms health and achieves equitable care.

Linda D. Scott