CHHS School of Nursing Director Loves Her Job at UNCW

After a year on the UNCW campus as director of the School of Nursing, Laurie Badzek can't imagine working anywhere else. 

“I love it here,” said Badzek. “I enjoy interacting with the students and faculty at UNCW.”

The nursing school's faculty excel at developing innovative options for educating nurses and clinical research professionals, she said. Consider the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a new degree option for advanced nurses. In August 2016, the university will welcome its first cohort, or class, to UNCW for the landmark program, approved by the UNC Board of Governors in October 2015. 

The curriculum, designed for working professionals, will be offered through a unique combination of campus-based and online instruction. The goal - to enhance patient safety and healthcare practice quality - focuses on preparing nurses to effectively analyze and improve the systems of care in their areas and to serve as transformational leaders within their healthcare agencies. 

Enrollment in the nursing school's largest online program (RN to BSN) will soon top 1,000 students, and Badzek said the faculty plans to offer its nurse educator program, a post-master's degree certification option, completely online in the spring. Enrollment continues to grow in the hybrid, primarily online-based Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) graduate program and post-master's degree certification as well as the fully online clinical research program, a non-nursing degree option focused on preparing graduates for careers in the science and business of developing healthcare products. 

“There’s a lot of growth in online education,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity.”

In addition to her role at the university, she also serves as director of the American Nurses Association (ANA) Center for Ethics and Human Rights, an organization committed to addressing the complex ethical and human rights issues confronting nurses. Previously, she taught nursing, ethics, law and health policy at the West Virginia School of Nursing.

Badzek's plans for the next year include collaborating with more corporate and community partners, working with faculty to evaluate the School of Nursing’s research endeavors and developing more connections with other UNCW programs whose graduates often work in healthcare and educational settings, and working with students to address their concerns, interests and highlighting their achievements. 

“We need to spend some quality time updating our mission vision and goals as well as figuring out what our areas of research are and determining what our school should be known for,” she said. “We want to look at how our research efforts intersect with those ideas.”