By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Dr. Carla Hermann has begun her tenure as director of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at IU Southeast, bringing with her a breadth of experience in the field and a compelling vision for the future.
A graduate of the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, she previously held the position of Professor and Ph.D. Program Director at the University of Louisville’s School of Nursing. Dr. Hermann has over 30 years of experience teaching nursing students at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. She has received numerous prestigious teaching awards, and has also successfully pursued grant funding for projects on spirituality, quality of life and symptom management in patients near the end of life.
A firm believer in inter-professional educational endeavors, Dr. Hermann was a co-investigator on the NCI-funded iCOPE project, which designed, implemented and evaluated a comprehensive educational program for nursing, medical, social work and chaplaincy students. Her research has appeared in Nurse Educator, the Journal of Nursing Education and other peer-reviewed scholarly publications, and she has presented frequently at a number of conferences both in the U.S. and abroad.
“The goal of the MSN program is to produce graduates that impact quality of care and improve patient outcomes using evidence-based practices,” Dr. Hermann said. “The importance of evidence-based practice applies to the preparation of nurse educators as we prepare them to use best practices for educating students and to nurse health care systems leaders to know best practices for leadership skills in care settings.”
Those settings are increasingly demanding due to broad trends in the industry.
“Across the country, we have a shortage of registered nurses, and one contributor to this is the shortage of qualified nursing faculty,” Dr. Hermann said.
In addition, the nursing workforce is aging, with nurses retiring in large numbers.
At the same time, the transformation of the healthcare industry into a more data-driven, cost-conscious and outcome-focused ecosystem places new demands on nurses.
For Dr. Hermann, these demands can be embraced as opportunities—if the preparation of nurses can keep pace.
The MSN program at IU Southeast does just that, with one track dedicated to nursing education and another devoted to nursing administration.
“The education track aims to produce qualified nurse educators to teach our next generation of nurses,” Dr. Hermann said. “The administration track provides special knowledge that builds skills that will help students navigate the changes and complexity of the healthcare industry.”
For Dr. Hermann, flexibility is key to adapting to shifts in the mentality of healthcare delivery. When she began her career as a nurse, electronic health records were unknown, reimbursement was not a consideration, and discharge planners were still years away.
“People stayed in the hospital for a much longer period of time and were not discharged until the majority of their health problems were markedly improved or resolved,” Dr. Hermann said. “Now we look at an individual from admission to release and beyond, and we are focused on educating and empowering the patient.”
While technology has redefined many aspects of the patient experience, and must be mastered in nursing education, Dr. Hermann recognizes the need for continuity with traditional aspects of the profession.
“I believe the core components of what we call the art and science of nursing have not changed,” Dr. Hermann said. “We still need to think critically, problem-solve and apply information to take the absolute best care of people, and we still need to be caring and compassionate.”
That fusion of technical expertise and human support is a lot to ask, but for pursuing a life in nursing, it is a challenge that is worth taking up.
Dr. Hermann has an expansive view of nursing as the backbone of healthcare in this country, due to the extremely wide range of responsibilities that nurses are expected to shoulder and competencies they are required to demonstrate.
“I believe that I am here to make a positive difference in other people’s lives,” Dr. Hermann said. “As a nurse, that’s what you’re doing, each and every day, and not just for patients, but for their families and for the community as well,” Dr. Hermann said. “For me, this makes life worth living.”