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Edson College reflects on its first year as a named college

Amanda Goodman

No one could have predicted that one year after the exceptionally generous gift by Charlene and J. Orin Edson to Arizona State University, we’d be in the midst of a global pandemic.

What was known at the time the gift was announced was that the funds would go toward specific initiatives both at the Biodesign Institute and at the newly named Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

Dean Judith Karshmer breaks down the Edson College initiatives into three big categories:

  • Increase the number of new nurses entering the workforce.
  • Prepare clinician-researchers with a focus on dementia science and family caregiving.
  • Promote innovation in nursing education.

The third category is happening now, in real time.

As a result of measures taken by ASU to protect students during the COVID-19 pandemic, all courses are now taking place online. This change includes simulation and experiential learning that would traditionally take place in the Grace Center for Innovation in Nursing Education.

“We have, and not just we at ASU but we as a nursing profession, have had to shift to simulation and virtual simulation at that, as the predominant method during this crisis to prepare the next generation of nurses,” Karshmer said. 

In fact, she predicts there will be opportunities to evaluate lessons learned from this experience to promote advances that take nursing education to where the learner is. 

Another way that the college is actively working toward this goal is with the addition of a degree program focused on simulation science which will begin enrolling students in the near future.

So far, this endowment has paved the way for several new degree programs including one that gets to the heart of preparing clinician-researchers with a focus on dementia science and family caregiving.

The DNP/PhD Concurrent Enrollment program with a focus on adult-gerontology was designed to prepare students with expertise and training in both research and practice.

The Edson gift created much-needed scholarship opportunities, covering tuition for qualified applicants.

“Now, we have funding set aside for nurses to prepare as adult geriatric nurse practitioners while simultaneously preparing as researchers earning a PhD with a focus on dementia and family caregiving.” 

This, along with work already going on at the college around aging through the Center for Innovation in Health and Resilient Aging, will help make Edson a premiere destination for Alzheimer’s and related dementia and caregiving research and expertise. 

In the fall of 2019, Edson College launched a highly anticipated new degree program, the Master of Science Entry into Nursing Practice. It filled up immediately and is part of the college's efforts to increase the number of new nurses entering the workforce.

Dean Karshmer says 30 students were admitted in the first cohort, and that by 2022 it will be 200 nurses. As we’re seeing now, nurses are not only an invaluable player in the health care field but more of them are desperately needed. 

This is just a sampling of the progress the Edson College has made in the last 12 months. And it’s only the beginning. 

With this sustained gift, the college will be able to continue building upon these initiatives, growing each area over time.

“This has helped us to jump start and establish these key priorities that will be Edson’s legacy of care and discovery. And we’re always interested in partnerships to promote our priorities around nursing workforce development, family caregiving, dementia science and innovation in nursing education,” Karshmer said.