Strengthened collaboration to improve nursing education and patient care at UF Health

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N. and Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C.In keeping with national recommendations to improve nursing practice and help nurses become well-positioned to lead change and advance health, the University of Florida College of Nursing and the UF Health system’s division of nursing will collaborate more closely in education, research and patient care, UF Health President David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., announced today.

As part of this partnership, both Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the College of Nursing, and Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C., chief nursing officer and vice president for nursing and patient care services at UF Health Shands Hospital, will now hold positions and active roles within the health system and college, respectively. In addition to serving as dean, McDaniel will serve as the UF Health assistant vice president for academic-practice partnerships, and Alexaitis will serve as the College of Nursing associate dean for academic-practice partnerships. In addition, nursing positions at UF Health are being created that combine responsibilities for teaching in the College of Nursing and active practice at UF Health Shands Hospital and other UF Health faculty office sites.

“I am pleased that our academic, research and clinical missions in nursing will continue to forge strong collaborations through an established academic-practice partnership,” said Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. “Strengthening the relationships between education, research and patient care is in keeping with our overall strategic goal of putting patients at the center of everything we do.”

The changing landscape of the health care system has prompted organizations such as the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make recommendations to meet the health needs of the citizens of the United States. One of these changes is growing the number of collaborative academic-practice partnerships between colleges of nursing and hospitals nationwide that include mutual goals to enhance education and practice.

Joint appointments in the college and UF Health facilities will allow the college to better meet the educational needs of students in the college’s academic programs, assist with UF Health nurse recruitment and retention, and strengthen the link between clinical practice and education. In addition, plans include exploring ways to provide advanced educational opportunities for nurses in UF Health facilities and aligning both organizations’ strategic goals and activities.“We are pleased to further strengthen the partnership between our college and UF Health, and we are excited about many future opportunities this will provide for our nursing students and faculty,” McDaniel said. “This move brings us back full circle to our pioneering heritage as our founding dean Dorothy M. Smith was one of the earliest nursing leaders to fully integrate nursing education, practice and research. By working more closely with UF Health, it solidifies that we are educating the next generation of nursing professionals fully prepared to meet the needs of our future health care system.”

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Organization of Nurse Executives’ task force on academic-practice partnerships, effective partnerships will create systems for nurses to achieve educational and career advancement, prepare nurses to practice and lead, and provide mechanisms for lifelong learning.

“This is a natural next step in our continued partnership with the College of Nursing, which is a tremendous part of our hospital and nursing division’s history,” Alexaitis said. “By more closely aligning our goals to provide top-notch nursing care and educating the best and brightest nursing professionals, we will continue to advance nursing practice to improve the health of our patients, which is our ultimate goal.”

About the Author

Tracy Brown Wright

Former Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, College of Nursing

Tracy Wright was director of public relations and strategic communications for the University of Florida College of Nursing. She holds a master's degree in mass communications with a concentration in...Read More