Karen Drenkard, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN starts as GW Nursing’s inaugural associate dean for clinical practice and community engagement Oct. 4.
Why were you interested in this opportunity?
To be part of this academic community and be part of the school’s leadership team is really exciting. The biggest appeal is the chance to work with outstanding faculty and university leaders and to have an impact in this community of D.C. and northern Virginia. It’s an exciting time to work here, celebrating the accomplishments that the school has achieved in the last 10 years. I am excited to be part of taking the school to the next level of excellence.
What challenges do you see in health care?
The reality of what’s happening in the U.S. is that we have a health care model organized around sickness and acute care. What we are working toward as a nation is a model focused on wellness, prevention and whole health — not just a person’s physical health, but psychosocial and emotional health and a sense of purpose. People need a total sense of well-being and health, and GW is taking the lead on educating nurses to meet these changing needs of the health care system.
What can nursing schools do to help transition health care to a whole-health approach?
Schools of nursing have an opportunity to educate the next generation of nurses who can have an incredible impact on the delivery system of care. In the changing health care system, the focus will be on total cost of care versus cost of acute care. Care is increasingly moving into other care settings, in homes, communities and faith-based communities. That’s where we need to grow the expertise of our clinicians. Community involvement and opportunities to experience care in alternative settings can help students learn to evaluate the whole system of care.
What will that look like for students?
We have opportunities to create innovative partnerships in clinical practice, and I am looking forward to working with the faculty and the community to craft valuable partnerships with clinical sites.
That sounds like a big job. Are you ready for it?
Yes! I’m so proud that my husband and daughter are both GW alums, and I believe in the university and the school of nursing’s mission, so I’m excited to be part of it.