John McFadden, PhD
Like so many of the dedicated faculty and administrators at Barry University, John McFadden, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, welcomes you into his office with a warm smile and a jovial tone. You know his “cup runneth over,” but his demeanor speaks of nothing more pressing than finding out how he can help you in this moment.
It’s an attitude that fits perfectly into the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS) and could easily be the key to its outstanding history of success. Nursing has always been a core program for Barry; and with the merger of the Schools of Nursing and Natural and Health Sciences, the variety of undergraduate and advanced health-related degrees has expanded across multiple disciplines. Its geographic reach has expanded as well, with campuses in five locations, distance learning opportunities, and more than 30 clinical practice locations across Florida, Texas, and California with more on the way. McFadden hopes to take it one step further: to build interdisciplinary collaborations within CNHS and among Barry’s nine colleges and schools for the benefit of the university and society.
“Working and learning together, we can move forward, see further for the sake of our students,” says McFadden. “‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ as they say – if we all row together toward the same destination.”
That destination, as he sees it, is one where learning is blended into serving others to create a more intimate impact on individual and community health.
McFadden is first and foremost a healer. Starting his professional career as a nurse, he was soon called to teach others. He returned to school to earn three master’s degrees and ultimately achieved his PhD at Barry.
“As a nurse anesthetist, I get about seven minutes to earn the trust of an anxious patient before surgery, and to be the first comforting face he sees after what may be the most fearful moment of his life is a moving experience,” he says. “It’s the call to be a healer, and I’ve tried to bring the essence of that call into all I do – for myself and for our students and faculty.”
As practitioner-scholars, the faculty of CNHS bring real-life, real-time experience to their instruction, as well as a wealth of research knowledge. Included in the published research subjects led by CNHS faculty are studies in health disparities relevant to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic factors; illnesses such as breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS; health issues related to teen pregnancy and relevant to survival of the Holocaust; and matters of nursing professionalism including work with simulation laboratories.
CNHS is ambitious in its pursuit of funding for research, scholarships, and training. In the 2013 fiscal year alone, CNHS faculty submitted proposals totaling nearly $8.5 million and received $1.68 million in awards. Under McFadden’s leadership, a spirit of grantsmanship has flourished, and he has led the charge, securing funding for equipment and programming from the Hearst Foundation, Hugoton Foundation, and Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida. Since 2012, CNHS faculty have secured multiple grants from the US Health Resources and Services Administration for scholarships and training, as well as the US Department of Defense for laboratory equipment, and the American Society for Cell Biology for research fellowship. Grant activity in CNHS covers the entire spectrum of Barry’s mission to Learn, Reflect, Serve, and it is both society and Barry’s students who benefit from these efforts.
McFadden aims to build the best options for educating students in the health professions. “After all,” he reminds us, “one day our graduates will be taking care of you and me. I want them to be prepared to give every patient the best possible care. My goal is to find a just and equitable environment for our faculty, our students and ultimately our patients.”
One of the greatest values of belonging to Barry University is the freedom to think innovatively, and the CNHS faculty embraces that freedom.
“Predicting the future, seeing what’s in store for our students five or ten years ahead, is a true challenge, but it’s our obligation to society,” McFadden says. “I’m just honored to serve with other deans who didn’t hesitate to teach me the ropes, and with faculty who give not only from their heads, but from their hearts. That’s not unique to CNHS – it’s how we live the Barry life.”