Across Florida and nationwide, Barry nursing graduates are known as leaders in the field. Now, a coveted new distinction lends an official air to that longstanding reputation. The National League for Nursing (NLN) has honored Barry University as a 2020 Center of Excellence, recognizing our undergraduate and graduate programs for their exceptional ability to “Enhance Student Learning and Professional Development.” This is not only the first time for Barry’s nursing program to receive the Center of Excellence distinction, but a first for the state of Florida. No other nursing program in our state has earned this recognition.
“It is definitely a reason to celebrate!” says Associate Professor Carolyn Hart, PhD, RN, CNE, and Chair of Entry to Nursing Practice. Hart was instrumental in positioning Barry to receive the award, collaborating with College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS) Dean John McFadden and other nursing faculty members on an application that detailed Barry’s emphasis on mentorship, diversity of talent, community engagement, professional networking, innovation, and more.
Among the myriad Barry programs that helped earn the 2020 designation is the Joan K. Stout, RN, FAAN Project for the ADVancement of Interprofessional Collaboration and Education, known as Project ADVICE. This initiative brings together students and faculty from across Barry’s academic programs in simulated patient-care events. With the goal of encouraging a practice of professional collaboration, this unique program helps students prepare to advocate for their patients by working across every level and discipline of the health care industry. As one BSN graduate said, “I think Barry sets you up for networking in the health care system.”
From the BSN to PhD programs, Barry also earned the NLN’s attention for fostering professional development through close student-faculty relationships. At Barry, mentees evolve into colleagues, with many graduates returning to earn advanced-practice degrees, collaborate on doctoral research projects, and teach the next generation of nursing leaders.
“That Barry nursing programs attract and retain such dedicated students is a testament not only to our outstanding faculty and diversity of degree options, but also to our flexibility in meeting the needs of individual students” says Dean McFadden. While maintaining the highest academic standards, Barry offers a variety of pathways for nontraditional learners and actively promotes the enrollment and matriculation of students from both diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The nursing student body reflects the diverse population of South Florida. This is a result of the institution’s effort to promote inclusivity and belief in educating nurses who can serve, elevate, and represent the diverse needs of our communities.
For Professor Hart, who spearheaded the award application effort, the NLN’s recognition of Barry as a Center of Excellence is not so much a surprise as a step toward an even more exciting future. “Having this honor means students can enter our program knowing that an unbiased, external group of experts has affirmed the quality of our graduates and the efforts of our nursing alum to meet the diverse needs of our different communities with compassion in an evidence-based practice,” she says.