Dr. Denise Seabert has taken over as the new dean of the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health at the University of West Florida. "I came to Pensacola from Ball State University (in Indiana). I was there for the last 15 years, coordinating a school health program, and then over the last few years helping to grow a new college of health there."
Dr. Seabert says that the faculty and staff of the university’s health programs are its greatest strength, along with the Pensacola itself. She says the area is unique, with three major hospitals serving the region. "(That's) very unusual. I come from an area where there was one major hospital, one health care system. So there's a lot of opportunity for collaboration here, and to help build and support the needs of everybody. Health care is growing, the jobs are changing but the demand has continued to grow and be very challenging to address."
One of the areas that has remained a challenge over the past decade or so is the continued shortage of nurses in the workplace. "The challenge for me is hiring administrators and faculty support, to support the preparation of new nurses. And that's one huge challenge for us, to get PhD and doctorally prepared nurses in higher ed. That's not unique to UWF. That is a national, I don't want to say crisis, but I would say it's a national problem everywhere."
In the future Dr. Seabert would like to see more PhD level nurses hired to provide not only instruction, but also assist with and conduct research at the university. She would also like to see an expansion of the simulation labs to provide nursing students with a hands-on experience before going out and working on patients. And the college of health provides training in other medical fields. "We are training phycologists, both undergraduate and graduate in a number of different areas. We have a medical lab science program, which is another one of those high-demand (programs). The students go out and spend a whole year doing internships on site where they are getting their clinical experience. We have a (health science administration) program and a public health program, both of which are training people to answer some of our community problems and to address those and to support the needs that are out there. Exercise science and community health is preparing athletic trainers, public health educators, (and) exercise scientists. So we are doing a variety of different things in our college to make sure that people are healthier as they live their daily life."
And Dr. Denise Seabert sees getting members of the community involved with the students and the programs as a key to their long term success.