Back to School 2015

Back to School!








I hope you are as excited about the start of school as we are in seeing you again!

What a momentous year this promises to be – we will be moving into our new building in the spring.  Construction is pretty far along and furniture for classrooms and offices has been selected.  The College of Nursing (CON) will have the entire first floor, and after 20 years in rented space in Hutchings, that is an exciting event.  I will be calling on you to help us with planning a big celebration, and I know we are all looking forward to being a vital part of the campus, interacting with medical, health profession and graduate students and faculty. We can’t wait.  Below is a picture of my soon-to-be office on the corner of the building.


Our first big event of the academic year is our Convocation on September 10.  This annual gathering of all faculty and students is always so much fun, as we get to dialogue together about the CON and listen to a dynamic speaker.   This year, we are fortunate to have Diane Skiba, who is one of the foremost informaticists in the world. She is faculty at University of Colorado School of Nursing and writes and speaks prolifically on how technology impacts health care and nursing care.  I know you will be particularly interested in her work in redesigning learning spaces to accommodate student experiences, and how you will soon be seeing patients electronically.  So I will see you at 2 pm on September 10 at the Hutchings auditorium, which is next door to the CON.

New students, your first few weeks can be a bit hectic and confusing.  We will have a short orientation to nursing at 12 noon on September 10, same place as above.

I am very interested in your input as to how we can improve your experience in the CON.  We will be sending out surveys to you via Survey Monkey on a pretty regular basis, so please respond when you have a few moments.  It is really important to us.  We will also be asking some of you, from each program, to participate in a focus group on September 10.  Dr. Lauren Germain, who helps us evaluate programs here at the CON, will be conducting it so we can learn how things are going for you.

We have new faculty that have joined us recently, so please drop by and say hello.  Dr. Shuhong Luo has just come to us from the University of Nebraska.  She will be teaching Nurse as Educator, and Information, Quality and Safety.  Her background is in educational technology and informatics.  Dr. Karen Klingman has a new PhD in nursing from the University of Buffalo and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.  Maybe we will call her Doctor Doctor!  She will be teaching research and courses in the DNP program.  Dr. Helen Clancy has her DNP and has lots of experience in community health and policy.  How fortunate we are to have such exceptional faculty here at Upstate College of Nursing.

We have many successes to celebrate here at the College: Our BS and MS programs received a renewal of accreditation for 10 years, the maximum possible, in 2015, and our DNP program had a very successful accreditation visit in 2015.  The faculty and I worked very hard to achieve these successful results, and we all thank the students who participated.  Your input was essential to a successful accreditation, and I am grateful you found the time to participate.  We will have our first class of DNPs graduating in January 2016, so stay tuned for the partying to accompany that momentous event!  We have completed a revision to our baccalaureate program to make it fully online.  The curriculum has been approved by faculty and we are now in the process of seeking the necessary approvals from SUNY and NY State Education Dept. We will now be revisiting the MS program curricula.  And we plan to open our BS to DNP track very soon.

So welcome back.  Drop by and see me anytime.  I am here to help you.  See you September 10!

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February 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!  I hope you will take some time with the people you love, and those who love you.  It’s a wonderful blessing to have people you can count on to support you, and love you unconditionally.  Enjoy the day!

I trust you do not love this winter very much.  I have seen enough snow and cold to last a lifetime, and I am praying for spring.  It is a good time to cozy up and watch a movie.  What luck!  The College of Nursing will be showing a wonderful film, The American Nurse on March 26 in the 9th floor auditorium in Weiskotten.  There will be a reception at 5 pm, and the film will begin at 6 pm.  This extraordinary documentary portrays the work of nurses across the country, and I can assure you, you will be moved and inspired.  Rarely has there been a film that captures the essence of our profession as this one does.  This showing will be our Spring Forum for 2015, and we have invited nurses from across the community to enrich our discussion after the film.  Please do your best to attend.  You will leave with new pride for our profession.

I hope you are keeping an eye on our new building as it grows.  Those construction workers are very productive and I anticipate we will be moving into our new space on time next January.  We are picking out furniture, and planning new spaces for interprofessional education.  While we all love our space at Hutchings (?), it will be transformative for you as CON students to be fully involved with other students on the main campus.  It is an exciting time for us all.

We have another accreditation visit coming up in March – for our DNP program.  Last year, we had a totally successful visit for our BS and MS programs, and are now fully accredited for 10 years.  We are anticipating another successful outcome for our online DNP program.  I hope you are planning on applying to our doctoral program.  As the Future of Nursing report so clearly documents, health care is in drastic need of a significant increase in doctorally prepared nurses, and you will not find a more accessible and fulfilling program than the one here at Upstate.  For those of you in your last semester of your master’s program, please apply.  We are holding seats for you!

A number of the CNS students have had posters accepted for the NACNS conference in California, and I am happy to report that I have been able to cover some of the costs of that conference so they can attend.  I do hope that you are planning to give a talk or present a paper on your work at your specialty conferences and spread the word on how wonderful Upstate nursing students are!

Do take care, and stay safe in the upcoming cold.  I hope to see you at the movies!


Joyce Griffin-Sobel, Dean, College of Nursing.



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Ebola Resources

What can every person be confident about?  That a nurse will take care of them when they are sick, no matter what the problem.  Because nurses are the front line of healthcare, spending the greatest amount of time in direct contact with patients, we face the greatest personal risk if appropriate precautions are not in place.  We have seen this recently as two nurses became infected with Ebola after caring for a patient who died of the disease.  We are seeing over-reaction on the part of some politicians and state leaders, stemming from fear instead of reliance on science.  Of course, information was sometimes conflicting and erroneous initially, which certainly added to the fear and distrust. As the most trusted profession, year after year, the public will look to us for information and reassurance.  Our most important tool is information.  I have included a summary sheet with a great deal of important information, and other resources are listed below. 

Summary sheet of resources: 

2014 NLN Ebola Resources

Additional resources:

So, please be sure to learn all you can about the transmission of this virus.  Global health crises affect all of us, and we must be knowledgeable about evidence-based care.  Please be sure to let me know if you find other credible resources to help us stay well informed. 


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September 3, 2014

Dear Students,

Welcome to the fall semester!  I hope you have had a good first week.  Tomorrow we will have convocation at 2 pm in the 9th floor auditorium of Weiskotten.  It is not mandatory, but just a nice opportunity for those of you who are available to meet our new students and have a chance to mingle a bit with CON faculty. 

I will be talking about something I have been brewing about lately.  There was a recent piece in the paper discussing the fact that the majority of nurses here in CNY have associates degrees.  The article minimized the importance of the baccalaureate degree in nursing to patient care, a fact that is well described in the literature.  Equally troubling were the comments posted online, mocking the importance of the BS degree.  I wrote an immediate response to the editor, which they chose not to publish.  I also found myself in a discussion with a group of nursing managers and administrators who were verbalizing things I haven’t heard in many years- that a new grad should work before getting their BS, that hospitals can’t accommodate school schedules, and that nurses should have all kinds of experience before going on to graduate work.

Just as practice needs to be evidence-based, so too does education and educational policy.  There is no evidence to support a need for experience before beginning baccalaureate studies, and little for requiring experience prior to graduate work.  Many many many hospital systems and educational institutions have worked out agreements where nurses are supported through their degree programs, with flexible schedules, paid days off to attend a full day of school, and other flexible options. And that has to happen here in Syracuse.  It is essential to quality care. Why would any health care system not be on board with this?  While the CON has taken many steps to make our educational programs as accessible as possible to you, the health care systems have to meet us at least halfway and be willing to experiment with alternate staffing patterns which would allow you to complete school in a timely manner!  You owe it to yourself and your career to achieve your degree as early as possible. The faculty and I are committed to helping you do that.

It is so important for each of us to be talking to the public, making sure they understand how critical a degree in nursing, both baccalaureate and higher, is to their health care.  Kudos to each of you for being enrolled in your programs, and I hope you are talking about what you are learning to your patients, friends, families, and those in your communities. The public must understand what magnet certification is, and why it is important to seek health care in a magnet hospital when possible.  Our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve.  Making sure patients have the best nursing care possible is part of that process, and achieving a baccalaureate and higher degree in nursing gives nurses the expanded knowledge and competencies they need to care for the complex patients of today and the future.  Let’s all work together to educate the public and our legislators about these facts. 

A calendar date  – I will be having Dean’s hours every month, alternating between Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This month, they are 9/11 at 2 pm in the CON.  I will have refreshments for you, and I would love to have some time with you to talk about your ideas and your progress towards your goals.  Please drop in if you have time.

Charting Nursing’s Future

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July notes and some dates for your calendars

Dear New and Continuing Students,
I hope you are enjoying our beautiful weather and getting some rest and relaxation with your families. I am having a little down time myself, and catching up on my reading.  I have just returned from a 2 day conference in Baltimore, entitled “DNP Impact”. Designed as a conversation among those of us involved with DNP education, DNPs in practice and those in administrative roles, the focus was on the role DNPs can play as the health care system evolves.    How to use data management skills to improve performance and aligning outcomes of DNP education with the demands of DNP practice were two topics discussed at length. With the new requirements for The Magnet Recognition Program® , which recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice, it is clear that DNPs can be powerful assets in helping hospitals meet the standards for new knowledge and innovation, empirical outcomes and structural empowerment. New skills in practice innovation, interprofessional leadership, translation of research into practice and measurement are in high demand in the workplace, and these skills enhance a variety of roles.
Another session discussed something near and dear to my heart: interprofessional education (IPE).   A panel discussion featuring the VPs for nursing at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital and the Senior Health Informatician at the US Dept of health and Human Services dramatically highlighted the need for health care professionals of all stripes to learn how to work in teams before they get to the workplace.  Interprofessional education cannot be just lip service any more since poor team skills negatively impact patient outcomes.  It was a terrific meeting, and we will be enriching our DNP curricula with some of these ideas. I encourage all of you to think about earning your DNP.  Our program is a quality one, and the knowledge you will gain will make you a very marketable professional.
So let me give you all a heads up on some upcoming events at the CON this academic year:
August 22, Friday:  We will be welcoming our new students to the Upstate Medical University College of Nursing.  The morning is all about the University as a whole, and the afternoon is focused on the College of Nursing, including the technology skills you will need to be successful.
August 26: Classes begin.
September 4, Thursday, 2-5 pm.  Convocation.  This year, our annual Convocation kicking off the academic year will focus on Interprofessional Education.  It will be in Weiskotten, and promises to be a social and informative time.  Stay tuned for all the details.
Deans Hours: Once a month, I will be hosting a time for us to get together and discuss what is on your mind, exchange ideas, and relax over some refreshments.  These will alternate between Tuesday and Thursday afternoons since those are the days that most of you have class.  Look for the exact dates and times on the CON calendar, which will be posted on our website.  The first one is September 11 from 2-4.
For those of you who answered our survey about the CON location, thank you.  I heard you loud and clear that parking is an issue, and that the CON is too far to come when you have classes on the main campus.  Many of your classes will be held at the CON this year.  I have arranged some new classroom space on our ground floor, as well as on the 3rd floor where the CON is located.  Your student lounge is there as well, and you are welcome to come and do your printing there free of charge.
Parking is free after 4 pm in lot 5, next to the CON.  Before 4 pm, you can continue to park in your usual locations since I am unable to secure additional parking at Hutchings during the day, unfortunately.  I hope you are urging on  the construction workers who are building our new academic building, since it will be wonderful when we are on the main campus.  The date for our relocation is predicted to be early 2016.
My best wishes for a healthy and safe summer, and I am looking forward to seeing you all in the fall.
Joyce P. Griffin-Sobel, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN
Dean and Professor, College of Nursing
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Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays were peaceful and you are leaping into 2014 to accomplish all of your goals. The College of Nursing (CON) has been a busy place over the last few months.  The faculty and I have engaged in a strategic planning process to envision where the CON should be in 5 years.  You will hear about that at our Spring Forum on January 22 (1-3 pm, Weiskotten 9th floor).  I will give you a preview – Our new mission is “To leverage the powerful professional voice of nursing through outstanding education, clinical expertise and research to improve health across the communities we serve.”  What does that mean?  It is now, more than ever before, that nursing’s professional voice, in the aggregate and individually, is desperately needed.  In the debates over health insurance coverage, rarely was a nurse cited as one of the expert opinions.  Dean Kathleen Potempa of the University Of Michigan School Of Nursing was part of the conversation, but few others.  Surely your patients, neighbors, family and friends have solicited your opinion about the media coverage, the political conversations or their personal insurance issues.  Do you feel sufficiently knowledgeable about this matter so as to provide information and understanding?  If not, spend time immersed in the literature so your professional voice is not only knowledgeable but powerful.  The journal Health Affairs is an excellent resource and it is available on our library site. The January 2013 issue is particularly important with articles on transforming care, use of teams to solve the primary care shortages, and how care is improved in NP staffed clinics at lower costs. The solution to the health care “problem” – lack of access to primary care and preventive services – is solvable by teams of health care professionals, all of whom are practicing at their full scopes of practice.  Nurses – BS, NP, DNP, PhD – are all integral and essential parts of the teams needed to address the health care needs of society.  Older, sicker, more chronically ill, poor and those with inadequate access to health care will all be better served when nurses are practicing without artificial restrictions on practice based on turf and power needs by others.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a series on military veterans of WWII who were lobotomized at VAs across the country.  The series is called The Lobotomy Files and it is essential reading for every nurse.  Over 2000 mentally ill and homosexual veterans were subjected to this procedure, some of which were done using an icepick technique behind their eyes.  Families remain traumatized to this day over so many WWII heroes who were reduced to childlike behavior and meaningless lives and death.  Why is it we have not heard the voices of nurses about these veterans, and their years of suffering?  A culture of silence and secrecy is incompatible with the powerful professional voice of nursing.  One of our most important ethical obligations is to advocate for those who can’t.  Abuses like this are still occurring – there are instances every day in newspapers across the country.  Each time I read about another case, I wonder where the nurses are.  We will have discussion about this issue at our Spring Forum on January 22.

A recent study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing describes how the nurse with a baccalaureate degree has a substantially higher job offer rate across the country than the national average across all professions.  Those nurses who receive an entry level Master’s degree have an even higher rate of employment, and that is a program we are evaluating for the CON.  Why are employment rates so much higher for nurses with more educational preparation?  Because nurses who are prepared at higher levels have the systems thinking, the ability to articulate professionally, and the skill in evaluating the data effecting health care which nurses prepared at the associates degree do not have. Those of you in baccalaureate education should be proud of yourself, and excited about your career possibilities.  Those of you in graduate and DNP education should be reaching out to nurses at all levels to support them in their decision making about returning to school.  If you have not already, take the time to read The Future of Nursing report by the Institute of Medicine (2010).  You can find it here.    (Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Retrieved from

This is a complex, difficult health care environment, and it is going to take the voice – the powerful, professional voice – of EVERY nurse to ensure people are receiving the best health care possible.  We owe them no less, and it is the reason that nurses are voted the most trusted ethical professionals year after year after year.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Welcome to my blog

Dear Students,

I am pleased to initiate this blog as another mechanism with which I can update you on the exciting events at the College of Nursing. I will be posting a new issue at least once a month.  Today I want to talk about our convocation.  Every semester, the CON will host an all-College program, and the convocation on 28 August was the first one.  It was an exciting time for our new students and continuing students, with opportunities to network with one another and the faculty.  Thank you to our sponsors: Key Bank NA, Upstate College of Nursing Alumni Association, SACON and the Omicron Alpha Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.  Special thanks to President Smith, who always finds the time to deliver gracious remarks.

I want to take a few moments of your time to help you with your studies.  I am a very technologically oriented person, addict actually, and I have found some of the following apps to be particularly helpful.

Evernote.  This is a digital filing cabinet where you can store your notes, webpages, articles and pictures. You can create a notebook for each project or course. and Evernote will keep everything you need in one place across all your devices.  An essential app!

Convert your personal email account to gmail, where you will have the ability to search for emails (instead of creating a never-ending series of folders), where you can link to Google drive to save your documents and collaborate with others, and which has sophisticated options for chat.  It’s a good thing!

Avoid disaster and store your documents in the cloud, not on your local computer.  It is too easy to lose all of your files and data by misplacing a jump drive or having a hard drive or computer failure. There are any number of options out there for backing up and storing your files.  I like Sugar Sync which syncs my files across my work and home computers, my laptops and my smartphone.  Google Drive and Dropbox are also very good, but the important thing is to pick one and use it.  It will save you many headaches!

Organize your to-do lists.  There are apps that can help you – Gtasks, Trello, Toodledo, all of which can help you to manage projects.  I also like using the Livescribe pen, which, when using the special notebooks, stores all your notes for upload into your computer.  It is very nice to be able to know that all of the countless notes I take are in one searchable location on my devices.  The pen can also audio record.  I love it.

Other things you may want to begin using include Twitter, which can really keep you up to date on professional and social news as they happen.  The CON will be starting a twitter feed shortly, and you are welcome to follow my Tweets @griffsob.  Download an app called Silence on your smartphone.  It will silence your phone on a schedule that you determine so your phone is not vibrating or beeping during your sleep time, class or important meetings.

The CON is acquiring two important software licenses, thanks to the generous support of President Smith.  One is Nursing Central.  This app hosts a number of reference books, diagnostic manuals, medication manuals and journals, which are all accessible on your smart phone.  We will also be instituting Typhon this semester, which will help in tracking your placements, activities during your clinical time, and allow  you the creation of an e portfolio which will be useful in your future job-hunting.

One theme you may have noticed throughout this blog is Smartphones. Yes, they are an essential tool for today’s nurse.  Your patients have them, and many track their health status using a variety of apps available to them. We will be using smartphones for many activities during class and clinical, so if you do not have one yet, it is time to upgrade!

I will close for now, but more to come.  I look forward to meeting all of you and hearing your ideas.  Come visit!


Dr. Griffin-Sobel, Dean, College of Nursing


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