In July, Dr. Catherine Thomas joined Worcester State University as the new associate dean of nursing in the Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing. After graduating with her BSN, she worked predominantly in acute care settings caring for adults in various specialty areas, including medical and cardiac surgical ICUs. Based on these experiences, she developed a commitment to addressing the health needs of underserved populations, through volunteer service with and without nursing students at mobile medical clinics and participating as a board member for an organization addressing homelessness through the operation of a shelter and provision/expansion of transitional housing.
Dr. Thomas came to Worcester State from Central Connecticut State University, where she served multiple terms as department chair and was a tenured associate professor and recipient of the Nightingale Award. She has a wealth of experience in specialized and general accreditation and has used innovative teaching practices throughout her career.
We asked Dr. Thomas to tell us a little about her vision for Worcester State’s Nursing Department.
Worcester State: What brought you to Worcester State?
Thomas: I came to Worcester State to continue to challenge myself as a leader and educator by taking on a new role as the associate dean. I was drawn to Worcester State because of the reputation and successful history of the nursing programs as well as the university’s commitment to academic excellence and affordability.
Worcester State: How would you describe the state of nursing today?
Thomas: Nursing as a profession has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. The need for nurses to ensure that they practice self-care and focus on their wellness is more important than ever. Our graduates will help address the nursing shortage that the health care system is and will be facing for some time.
Worcester State: What do you think the future of nursing will be?
Thomas: I think the future for the nursing profession looks very bright—the recognition of the ability of nursing by The National Academies of Medicine in the The Future of Nursing 2020- 2030 Report to “chart a path to achieve health equity” will be very influential in what further roles nurses can take in the health care system.
Worcester State: What is it like to educate the next generation of nurses?
Thomas: Nursing education has evolved greatly since I started teaching full time! High-fidelity simulation, evolving case studies were not in existence! I look forward to being part of the programs being on the cutting edge with the eventual incorporation of existing and new types of virtual simulation as well as the transition to a competency-based curriculum!
Worcester State: What is your vision for Worcester State’s nursing program?
Thomas: My vision for the nursing programs at Worcester State is focusing on preserving the well-deserved reputation of graduating well-prepared, dedicated, compassionate nurses—by working with the dean, faculty, and staff to ensure that we continue to evolve the programs as well as continuing to expand the learning/experiential opportunities for students.
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