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From the Dean

Stepping up: it's what nurses do
  nurse dean

It doesn’t get any better than when the President of the United States pays you a compliment. Last September, President Obama came to Atlanta for a briefing on the Ebola crisis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) where he also met with the Emory doctors and nurses who successfully treated the first Ebola patients in the nation. Here’s what he said afterward:

“I have got to commend everybody at Emory University Hospital. I just had the opportunity to meet with Drs. [Bryce] Gartland and [Bruce] Ribner and members of their team and the nurses who—sorry doctors, but having been in hospitals, I know they are the ones really doing the work—and I had a chance to thank them for their extraordinary efforts in helping to provide care for the first Americans who recently contracted the disease in Africa.”

President Obama was referring to the 21 critical care nurses who served on the Ebola team, some of whom are graduates of the School of Nursing. You’ll meet three of them in this issue—Crystal Johnson, Laura Mitchell, and Jason Slabach—who stepped up quickly when asked to work in Emory’s isolation unit.

“Someone obviously trusted me enough to feel I would be a good fit for the unit,” Jason later reflected. “When they asked, and I learned more about it, I was 100 percent all in. That’s a mindset that Emory promotes to its students. Do what you can to help. If you have an opportunity, go for it. Get more training, further your education. It felt very normal for me to do that.”

We pride ourselves on instilling that mindset in our nursing students, including Michelle Dynes, a graduate of our doctoral program who serves as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC. Michelle spent six weeks in Sierra Leone applying her skills in an Ebola treatment center there. When she later spoke at the School of Nursing, the room was filled to capacity with students and faculty eager to hear about her role in helping address an unprecedented health crisis.

Susan Grant, chief nurse executive for Emory Healthcare, said it best in describing Emory’s commitment to helping Ebola patients in our country and thousands of miles away in West Africa: “We can fear, or we can care.”

Linda A. McCauley 79MN PhD RN FAAN FAAOHN
Dean and Professor

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