Schell appointed interim director of School of Nursing
Kathleen Schell

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9:59 a.m., July 15, 2010----Kathleen Schell, associate professor of nursing at the University of Delaware, was appointed interim director of the School of Nursing effective July 1.

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“I'm thrilled to be leading the School of Nursing at a time of tremendous opportunity in terms of expanded collaborations and new clinical and educational initiatives,” Schell says. “The school is already very strong, with many of our faculty playing leadership roles in national organizations and being formally recognized as excellent educators, and it's only going to get better.”

New initiatives include the Nurse Managed Health Center due to open at UD later this summer, a Ph.D. program in nursing science, and multi-site education and research through the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance.

“With Delaware's small size, nurses should collaborate on research as well as educational resources,” Schell says. “There's a great deal of collegiality among nurses in the state, and we need to lasso that and implement a few good ideas to get us started.”

Schell also mentions development of a collaboration with the School of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University, which will be facilitated by the UD-TJU Educational Partnership. “We have a committee evaluating commonalities and differences and looking at how we can enhance our graduate programs to help nurses within the state find the resources that will work best for them,” Schell says.

Additional plans include increasing collaborations with other departments at UD, such as theatre students playing the role of standardized patients for physical therapy and nursing students. Nursing faculty are also conducting interdisciplinary research with colleagues in the departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice and Human Development and Family Studies, as well as UD's Center for Disabilities Studies.

Schell would like to see more collaboration among the health science disciplines at UD as well. “Emphasis on a team of experts to promote wellness, manage illness, and restore health is fundamental to our college,” she says.

For example, she is currently working with Michael Peterson, chair of the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, to include undergraduate and graduate nursing students in educational sessions focused on the use of motivational interviewing and coaching to promote wellness. “There needs to be a continuum,” Schell says, “where nurses are not only prepared to care for acutely ill patients in the hospital but also educated about ways to help individuals and families to adopt new, healthier behaviors after they're discharged or, better yet, before they develop illness and disease.”

Other interdisciplinary health sciences collaborations are underway with faculty in the departments of Physical Therapy and Kinesiology and Applied Physiology.

Schell also sees the potential for connecting with additional health care and community agencies in the state to develop and implement programs that will provide the public with needed services while also helping to smooth the transition for nursing students from school to practice.

Schell holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in nursing from the University of Delaware, and a doctoral degree in nursing education from Widener University.

A UD faculty member since 1992, Schell teaches a variety of classroom and clinical courses in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs with a focus on adult health and critical care nursing. Her research focuses on innovative teaching in the undergraduate classroom and the accuracy of blood pressure measurement. At UD, she has been involved in curriculum development and the integration of problem-based learning and “clickers” in the nursing classroom.

Schell is a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the Delaware Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the Beta Xi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International, the Eastern Nursing Research Society, and Phi Beta Kappa.

A nationwide search is underway for a permanent director to fill the position, which was left vacant when former School of Nursing director Kenneth Miller left UD to become associate dean for administration in the School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“Kathy Schell was the unanimous choice of the faculty in the School of Nursing for the interim position, and we're delighted that she has agreed to lead the school through this transitional period,” says Kathleen Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences.

“She has a vibrant research program and a strong personal commitment to education and service. She is also actively involved in the DHSA and many of our ongoing new initiatives. Kathy will be a great asset in helping us move the field of health sciences forward at the University of Delaware and in the state.”

Article by Diane Kukich

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