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Real-world focus garners honor for ASU nursing partnership with Mayo

Scott Seckel

Precision education or stabs in the dark?

It’s the former that has won both the ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Mayo Clinic a national award for their collaborative efforts to produce nurses who can hit the ground running.

The 8-year-old joint effort has centered on ASU listening to what Mayo needs in a nurse, then precisely educating that nurse to meet those needs.

“Often in universities around the country we come up with curriculum and classes for the learners,” nursing dean Teri Pipe said. “We want to make sure they’re exactly relevant to what our clinical partners want. When we graduate a nurse, we want that nurse to be prepared to work in their environment and that there aren’t any learning gaps.”

Kinley Brownsberger completed the Mayo program in May 2014, earned a bachelor's in nursing, and is currently working as a registered nurse at Mayo on the orthopedic, urology and acute rehab floor.

"One of the reasons I pushed so hard to get into the Mayo program was that the classes were taught by current Mayo employees," Brownsberger said. "It gave me a better understanding of what's going on in nursing. I was able to apply that knowledge in a better way.

"Sometimes instructors haven't worked in a few years. I was better able to integrate into the nursing world because I had instructors who were working. I already knew the (electronic medical record) system when I started."

Nursing students go to Mayo for clinical experience during their junior and senior years.

“We actually have a physical presence on the Mayo campus,” said Pipe, who added that nurses with master's degrees are hired as faculty at ASU.

“We hire the nurses we need,” she said. “Those master’s prepared nurses are also employed at Mayo. Everyone benefits.”

Pipe meets monthly with Mayo chief nursing officer Teresa Connolly to discuss how the collaboration is progressing.

“We want to make sure everything is working,” she said. “We also want to get ahead of anything that’s not. ... This collaboration is at all levels and involves a lot of people. It’s not just on the surface; it’s really hard, roll-up-your-sleeves work. The students and the patients benefit the most.”

The partnership was the brainchild of ASU President Michael Crow and the then-CEO of Mayo, Vic Trastek, who is now a faculty member at ASU in the College of Health Solutions, Pipe said.

“They really came up with this vision of how the two organizations might collaborate,” she said.

Receiving the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Exemplary Academic-Practice Partnership Award is an incredible honor, Pipe said.

“This is a national award, and lots of organizations go into this competition,” she said. “To the college, it really means a lot to be recognized for the work that has gone into this collaboration over the years.

“It recognizes we’re trying to close the gap between academia and clinical practice. Clinical partners must inform the university what they want.”