I’m excited and honored to be in this new role working for a tremendously talented group of people. As a department, we recognize that in order to continue achieving excellence in our research, teaching and service missions, we need to attend to how we work together internally. Over this academic year, our department has been identifying common objectives and building a conversation around meeting those objectives. We are focusing on three main themes: creating a positive work environment, which includes building a trusting community, one in which we are fully attuned to the quality of our interpersonal relationships; recognizing and addressing structural inequities in our teaching, service and research, and; building a culture where everyone has the freedom to engage in creative problem-solving, both individually and collectively, so we can work to our strengths and be our best selves.
We are exploring these themes at our monthly department meeting – developing consensus around objectives – and are establishing a vision for the future. Right now we are working on identifying and prioritizing attainable, shorter-term goals that will move us toward structural changes that will benefit staff, students and faculty. This includes looking at roles and responsibilities in the department – how we might be able to realign some of our work so people have more support to do their jobs more effectively.
At our upcoming May retreat, we plan to work on the structural inequity theme by engaging in a deeper dialogue about these topics. We know structural inequities inhibit our ability to do our work in multiple ways and that students and faculty of color have concerns about their experiences with discrimination and exclusion. We also have historical practices about how resources are allocated – the hierarchy of who gets what and why. Our biggest concern is addressing how these inequities affect underrepresented groups, and there are also other structural inequities that affect, for example, ladder rank and clinical faculty. We are open to examining concerns we might not have been able to see in the past. So far at the department level our dialogue has included staff and faculty. While individual programs have been working closely with students on issues of inequity and community, we also need to bring students into our department-level work.
Audrey Lyndon, RN, PhD, FAAN, has been chair of the Department of Family Health Care Nursing since August 2017. Her research program focuses on improving patient safety and quality in inpatient maternity and neonatal care. Current work includes serving as the only nurse on an interdisciplinary research team focused on designing the ideal labor and birth room; a study on the dual burden of prematurity and severe maternal morbidity; and an RO1 grant to study birth outcomes in relation to registered nurse staffing.