Noted Health Policy Scholar and Nursing Educator Donna Nickitas Named Dean of Nursing School

By Mike Sepanic

The appointment of Donna Nickitas, a noted health policy scholar and nursing educator, as the dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is announced by Phoebe Haddon, chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden.

Donna Nickitas

Donna Nickitas

The appointment becomes effective on July 1.  As dean, Nickitas will lead the growth of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, which was approved by the Rutgers Board of Governors on June 14, 2011.

Nickitas, 64, currently is a professor at City University of New York’s Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing and The Graduate Center, where she is the executive officer of the nursing science Ph.D. program and previously served as the former specialty coordinator of the dual degree in nursing administration/public administration.  In both capacities, she has played a critical role in growing enrollment and enhancing the national profile of the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing.

“I am pleased to assume the position of dean at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden and excited to build on the school’s tradition of leadership, scholarship, and service to nursing education,” says Nickitas.  “The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is a unique place that demonstrates how an exceptional educational program prepares and builds the next generation of nurse leaders, clinicians, and scholars.

“Nurses serve society and do public good,” continues Nickitas.  “The future of the nursing profession lies in our ability to advance society’s health and be a driving force that shapes public policy and contributes to a more equitable, prosperous society where the health of all populations is assured. With courage, advocacy, and conviction, nurses must mobilize collectively to remove the barriers that threaten health care delivery including efforts to temper health insurance coverage, and discriminatory policies and practices that impede access to care. I am honored to serve as dean at this moment in time when advancing the nation’s health and promoting health policy toward greater equity for all is critical.”

The Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden currently enrolls 873 undergraduate and 56 doctoral students who are taught by 33 full-time research and clinical faculty and 88 part-time faculty. The Rutgers–Camden nursing faculty includes individuals who are members of such prestigious national academies as the American Academy of Nursing, the National Academies of Practice, and the NLN Academy of Nurse Educators.

Established in 2011, the Rutgers–Camden nursing school offers the bachelor of science in nursing degree (with accelerated and RN to BS options), the doctor of nursing practice degree, and school nursing and wound ostomy continence nurse specialty programs. Students at every level engage in meaningful learning experiences, including clinical affiliations with more than 125 health partners; engaged civic learning courses that place students in community-based settings; and Learning Abroad opportunities that allow students to apply their knowledge via hands-on service learning abroad.  The nursing school has scholar exchange programs with Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, and the University of Havana in Cuba.

Nickitas is the author, co-author, or co-editor of peer-reviewed books related to the nursing profession such as Public Policy and Politics for Nurses and Other Health Professionals, second edition (2016, Jones and Bartlett) and Reviews & Rationales: Nursing Leadership & Management (2009, Prentice Hall Health).  Her scholarship appears as chapters in books such as Fast Facts About the Nursing Profession Historical Perspectives in a Nutshell (2017, Springer Publishing) and Practicing Primary Health Care in Nursing: Caring for Populations, third edition (2017, Jones and Bartlett).

Nickitas’ research consistently appears in peer-reviewed journals that include Nursing Education Perspectives, Research in Gerontological Nursing, and the Journal of Nursing Education. She is the editor of the journal Nursing Economic$ and has received research grant support from agencies such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National League for Nursing, Jonas Philanthropies, and Sigma Theta Tau International.

She is a member of premier national honor societies including the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing; a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing; a Fellow of the National Academies of Practice; and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine.  She is an invited member of the Hermann Biggs Society and an invited nurse educator for Johnson & Johnson’s “Campaign for Nursing Future” webisode series.  Her achievements have been recognized with awards such as the 2017 Josephine Dolan Diamond Jubilee Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing Education from the Connecticut Nurses Association and the 2015 Mary Nutting Award for Outstanding Teaching or Leadership in Nursing Education from the National League for Nursing.

A retired major in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Reserve Corps, Nickitas previously served as assistant director of maternal child health nursing at Bellevue Medical Center in New York and as a staff nurse in the labor and delivery unit at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.  She earned her Ph.D. from Adelphi University, her master’s degree from New York University, and her bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University.

She is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations, serving as treasurer of the Eastern Regional Society of Nursing, vice chair of the nursing section of the New York Academy of Nursing, and a board member of the Saint Edmund Preparatory High School in Brooklyn.

Nickitas currently resides in Old Greenwich, Conn., with her husband, Michael Nickitas, a retired managing director at JPMorgan/Chase.  They are the parents of Nick Nickitas of Ithaca, N.Y.; Catherine Nickitas Tallman of Huntington, Vt.; and Jon-Philip Nickitas of Los Angeles.

“Dean-designate Nickitas is an exceptional administrator, a noted health policy scholar, and an energetic visionary regarding the future of health care and nursing education in America,” says Haddon. “Her intuitive understanding of how to catalyze faculty excellence and student ambition to advance an institution is one reason why she is the right leader to help Rutgers University–Camden become a national model for advancing nursing education, scholarship, research, and service.”

Information about the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is online at nursing.camden.rutgers.edu.

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