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News Archive - The Acadia Hospital Establishes Professorship of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing at School of Nursing

he Acadia Hospital in Bangor has provided up to $250,000 over five years to establish a professorship at the University of Maine School of Nursing as part of what is likely the state’s first-ever academic-service partnership aimed at improving opportunities in psychiatric-mental health nursing education.

Through the Acadia Professorship of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, the hospital and the university will work together to recruit a Ph.D.-trained faculty member who not only will teach student nurses and manage their onsite clinical education, but also will have an extraordinary opportunity to conduct research with Acadia staff on the specific needs of populations served by the private, non-profit psychiatric and chemical dependency treatment provider.

“This is a groundbreaking move that will raise the bar in setting a standard of collaboration between academia and practice,” said April Giard, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at The Acadia Hospital.

Representatives from the university and the hospital said the collaboration makes sense since both institutions share a common concern for the importance of having expert nursing faculty to prepare nurses with exceptional knowledge and skills and a commitment to lifelong professional development for optimal health outcomes of patients and families.

Associate Professor Nancy Fishwick, Interim Director of the School of Nursing, said UMaine and The Acadia Hospital have had a successful relationship for many years. “The Acadia Hospital has generously provided essential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from UMaine School of Nursing, both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. As a result of their experience at The Acadia Hospital, students frequently are inspired to choose psychiatric nursing as their clinical specialty upon graduation. I have the pleasure of working with UMaine graduates who now are on staff at The Acadia Hospital. Graduates who choose other health-care specialties are also influenced by their Acadia Hospital experience in the sense of having a high awareness of, and skill in attending to, the emotional and mental health needs of patients and families in all health-illness circumstances.”

This new partnership is especially rewarding, she said, because it enables UMaine to offer a titled prestigious position – something that is essential since only 1-2 percent of the nation’s nurses specialize in psychiatric-mental health. In addition, UMaine will be able to advance its nursing education program and increase the skill-level of future clinicians. In return, Acadia will have the opportunity to work with a psychiatric nurse/ researcher who will promote scholarly activity which focuses on the specific needs of people affected by mental illness or substance dependency.

Dottie Hill, former president and CEO of The Acadia Hospital, who initiated the professorship but retired in October 2008 before it became a reality, said she is thrilled.

“I was well aware that our future workforce is dependent upon our future faculty, and that it is becoming more difficult to recruit faculty to prepare all nurses, not only psychiatric mental health nurses. My hope is that this exciting professorship will be utilized by others as a template to draw more faculty to Maine and to prepare our future nursing workforce in all specialties. I have long been an advocate for appropriate nursing faculty compensation and believe this opportunity should be the first of many to achieve the mutual goals of having enough faculty to meet the demands of those who wish to enter the profession of nursing.”

Kendra McCrate, Director of Development for UMaine's College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture; Nancy Fishwick, Interim Director of Nursing at UMaine; April Giard, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at TAH; and Edward Ashworth, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture

Left to right: Kendra McCrate, Director of Development for UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture; Nancy Fishwick, Interim Director of Nursing at UMaine; April Giard, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at TAH; and Edward Ashworth, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.

In 2003, Acadia became the first psychiatric hospital in the world to achieve magnet status through The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which focuses on nursing excellence.

Ed Ashworth, Dean of UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture, said the new relationship with Acadia “allows us to make the position special and team together to bring a quality faculty member in psychiatric mental health nursing to UMaine.

“This way, we’ll be able to emphasize psychiatric nursing to our students and partner with the people who hire them.”

November 5, 2008


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