St. Thomas Magazine_Spring 2022

By SHEREE R. CURRY Photos by MARK BROWN W hen Dr. MayKao Hang, vice president of strategic initiatives and founding dean of the Morrison Family College of Health, was charged in fall 2019 with developing a plan to launch the School of Nursing at the University of St. Thomas, she essentially had a blank slate. But there was no doubt in her mind about how to proceed.

She envisioned a culturally responsive program that would educate students who would learn to treat the whole person – their mind, body, spirit and community – and promote health and wellness in a way that would also advance health equity and social justice. After two years of planning, approval from four governing bodies, and the co-leadership of founding director Dr. Martha Scheckel, the School of Nursing at the Morrison Family College of Health is on track to open its doors to its first cohorts in fall 2022. The School of Nursing is launching at a befitting time, as the nation is in a health crisis. Health care disparities persist among those who are low income, those of certain racial and ethnic groups, and those in rural areas. The issues are exacerbated by both aging baby boomers with growing medical issues and exiting nurses entering retirement or other career opportunities. The good news is the curricula and enrollment goals of the School of Nursing could help solve the growing health inequities in this country: matriculate more students who want to become nurses but give them the tools to better understand how their actions and leadership can lead to systemic change. “When you set a goal like that, it‘s to motivate us into action,“ said Hang, who noted that teaching culturally responsive care isn‘t unique to St. Thomas‘ nursing school, but as a new program it‘s easier to start out the door in this direction, rather than retrofitting changes into an outdated model.

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