By Richard Love LOS ANGELES – (May 24, 2010) – After an exhaustive nation-wide search, Gloria J. McNeal, PhD, ACNS-BC, C, FAAN has been appointed the Founding Dean for the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science. Dr. McNeal assumed leadership January 25, 2010.
Dr. Gloria McNeal “We are so proud to have Dr. McNeal join our illustrious staff of researchers and educators,” says Dr. Keith Norris, Interim President of Charles Drew University. “Dr. McNeal has proven herself a leader in the health care field through her dedication to providing innovative, quality health care solutions to underserved populations. These qualities are synergistic with the mission and core values of our institution: to provide excellence, innovation and leadership in all our endeavors. We look forward to this exciting new chapter of our legacy, incorporating telemedicine and mobile medical units, a new doctoral nursing program and creating cutting edge programs that focus on the healthcare needs of the populations we serve.”
Dr. McNeal will helm the nursing school which will enroll the first 40 of 120 students during the 2010-2011 academic school year in the new $43 million state-of-theart Life Sciences Research Nursing Education building. The unique distinctions of this program are many. It will offer an entry level Masters of Science in Nursing curriculum of study and enrollment is open to anyone who currently holds a BA or BS degree at an accelerated pace—five semesters in just over two years. This will help deflect the critical shortfall of nurses that currently is the case in the State of California. According to reports, U.S. nursing schools last year turned away 40,000 more applicants than they could absorb. It will also allow students to practice clinical skills in a simulated laboratory which contains an operating room suite, ICU bed and nurses station for a 12-bed medical-surgical unit. The focus of the program is the design and implementation of strategies that address healthcare disparities. Additionally, the new school has been granted initial approval by the California Board of Registered Nursing and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
“I have high expectations for myself and for this program,” explains McNeal. “Currently, opportunities for minority nurses are limited. This institution will empower individuals of color by establishing a curriculum and opportunities for career and academic advancement that are heretofore non-existent. I see the School of Nursing being recognized as a Center of Excellence. I want several endowed chairs for community service to draw more outstanding researchers into the university. I want graduates of this program to be visionary, to think outsidethe- box and deliver care where it is needed—where ever that may be through the use of technology. I want them to recognize problems and create solutions. I want them to be leaders.”
Dr. McNeal has made significant contributions to the field of nursing during her professional career and the accolades and awards that have been bestowed upon her from the nursing profession are numerous and among the industry’s most high. This is a far cry from her humble beginnings. She was raised by a single mother caring for two daughters, living in a housing project in Philadelphia. After years of substandard public school education, she was accepted into the elite Philadelphia High School for Girls, where she floundered because of her educational background. Her mother’s determination for McNeal’s success, despite numerous jobs to keep the family afloat, resulted in hiring expensive tutors for McNeal and she thrived under their tutelage. She graduated from the high school with top scores and went on to Villanova University College of Nursing, following in her mother’s footsteps, who was a practical nurse. From there she obtained her graduate degree in nursing and her PhD in higher education administration at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Graduate School of Education, respectively. McNeal most recently served as Associate Dean for Community and Clinical Affairs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In this role she served as the Director of the New Jersey Children’s Health Project, where she engaged the community in the implementation of a community-based, interdisciplinary nurse managed mobile health center. This no-cost center on “wheels” was a practice site for nursing and medical students, as well as faculty and served over 3,400 patients in the Newark, Elizabeth and Irvington, NJ areas. From this venture, she secured over $4.4 million dollars in grants to establish traineeships, a Center for Academic Support Services and the mobile healthcare project.
Dr. McNeal has published over 100 articles, abstracts and chapters in a variety of distinguished nursing journals, in addition to editing a journal for the Association of Black Nursing Faculty, which has earned her national recognition and makes her a sought after educator, clinician, administrator, consultant and researcher. Her keen interest in technology afforded her the opportunity to design a cutting edge patient program system which allowed doctors—remotely and at a glance—to summarize patients progress and is one of the earlier reporting formats from which modern day telemedicine is based. She has developed systems for nurses to utilize this technology in an effort to provide more preventative care for patients and cut down expensive emergency room visits, as detailed in the text she authored entitled AACN Guide to Acute Care Procedures in the Home.
Additionally, she has been lauded by the nursing profession and has received numerous awards for her contributions and dedication to the field. Of note, McNeal was named a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, appointed a Master Educator and elected to the Master Education’s Guild, the University’s highest honor, by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In 2006, she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the highest honor bestowed by the discipline. The distinction of being named an Executive Nurse Fellow by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2007, an accolade that is only conferred to 20 in her profession annually, reinforces the depth and conviction that Dr. McNeal displays to her profession.
Dr. McNeal’s immediate plans for the School of Nursing are to have no-cost mobile units serving the community by the end of 2010 and curriculum development for a doctoral program in nursing.
“I was intrigued by the mission of Charles Drew University—to conduct education, research and clinical services in the context of community engagement to train health professionals who promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities—it was like living my dream,” says McNeal. “I have dedicated my life to serving indigent populations and this is what this University represents. This will be the first nursing program to focus on health disparities to diverse populations. My humble beginnings and resulting career attest to the fact that it doesn’t take 12 years to get the training needed to excel at the collegiate level; academic skills can be taught. I want the community that I serve to understand that if I can do it, they can do it. Through oversight and hands-on teaching and patient care, I want to be an example.”
The Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing is named in honor of Dr. Mervyn M. Dymally, who served in the California Assembly for many years distinguishing his service as the first and only black Lieutenant Governor, and later served for six terms as a U.S. Congressman. Dr. Dymally is currently a professor in the Charles Drew University College of Medicine and Director of the Urban Health Institute.
ABOUT CHARLES DREW UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE:
CDU is a private nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals. The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S., CDU is recognized as a leader in translational and health inequities research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. The university is among the top 7 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded institutions and rated one of the top 50 private universities in research in the U.S. Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the “best performer” in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians. For more information, visit http://www.cdrewu.edu/