Fall Reflections

October 2016
Zina Mirsky

I’m stepping in as a guest blogger for Dean Sandra Weiss, to do two things this month: recognize a redesign of Science of Caring, and welcome the new school year. As a retired faculty member and administrator, I am quite familiar with and fond of both experiences.

I have been involved in the design of Science of Caring from its origin in print through the current online version, and want to say a few words about what this evolution means to me personally.

We long ago recognized the need to bring the best of UC San Francisco School of Nursing – its faculty, research, students, graduates and staffers – to the public eye. We designed the publication to help do that. It was first mailed quarterly to thousands across the country and the world, and is now available online to many more, with greater frequency. It gives me pleasure to know that this new look continues a tradition of conveying the urgency, relevance, timeliness and productivity of our School. Science of Caring has helped recruit new students and faculty, as people far and wide learn of our interests, research and other activities. Our graduates keep in touch, and we’ve profiled many of them for your reading pleasure. Let us know, please, if you have suggestions or thoughts on specific articles or in general – there is always a place for your voice in each issue.

While the publication is wonderful, it can capture only a fraction of the extraordinary work that goes on at the School, which is why I am so thrilled to welcome our group of over 450 new and continuing nursing students back to campus for the fall quarter. The UCSF community is a remarkable, fascinating and energizing place, and this campus infographic, which provides a breakdown of all students entering in 2016, opens a small window into the richness of this community.

As for our School, the best way to convey its vitality is to describe what I saw recently, when the faculty asked me to provide some feedback on teaching techniques and other aspects of a Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) course on sociocultural issues in health and illness. Mind you, it’s been a while since I retired, and longer still since I taught actively in prelicensure education, but I’ve known of the quality of our students via my work on MEPN admission screening committees. What an absolute treat it was to see those students and faculty in action.

The MEPN students bring wide differences in age, gender, and sociocultural and educational backgrounds, but all bring a deep commitment to excellence in their newly chosen profession. They also bring a good grounding in study skills and communication strategies, as well as clear enthusiasm for new learning, which makes their group discussions invigorating. They clearly embrace the worth of cultural humility and social justice, and talk readily about strategies to bring safe and quality outcomes of care to a diverse population of patients. They question each other, and themselves, bringing reflection and thoughtfulness to their discussions.

They are starting their nursing career at a time when nursing has never been more vital, with a clear indication of our professional worth in today’s economic and political landscape. The paths they can walk – and run, more likely – vary greatly from the days when I was a student. They are navigating through many nursing career options, actively considering where they’ve been, where they will go next and the choices for their long-term future. Judging from their approaches to the classroom, they will explore these options passionately and intelligently, and their impact will be felt throughout the School and, later, their communities, I am certain.

Our School has always been a place where students can make the most of the many opportunities in nursing, and I anticipate that these students will bring their own drive to continue this strength. I look forward to learning more about and from them!

— Retired Associate Dean Zina Mirsky