Hill named new dean of nursing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A shortage of nurses nationwide includes her home state of Mississippi, and Dr. Mary Hunter Hill has plans to ease that health care crisis.

Returning home in 1991 to become an associate professor of nursing and director of organizational effectiveness at the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing, she knew then that her mission would be to increase the number of nurses within the state.

On Aug. 25, she assumed a new position that gives her further opportunity to make a difference in nurse education &045; that of dean of the Alcorn State University School of Nursing in Natchez.

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&uot;I’m excited and looking forward to it,&uot; Hill said. &uot;Since I am a Mississippi native, I am very aware of the opportunities and resources in the state.&uot;

The work already accomplished at the nursing school sets the stage for further growth and excellence.

&uot;I think this position was my destiny now that I reflect on the path I had to tread to get here,&uot; she said. &uot;Once I made the decision to accept the position, I became very tranquil. It is almost like a calling. This is the place for me at this time of my life.&uot;

Those preceding her, particularly recently retired dean Dr. Frances Henderson, have given her big shoes to fill. &uot;I have the charge to raise it to the highest level &045; in education, in service and in research,&uot; Hill said. &uot;I am committed to carry on this legacy, and it is a big charge.&uot;

A shortage of nurses parallels an equally critical shortage of nursing faculty. The school has a history of educating some of its own students to return as instructors. But the school must have others from outside the ASU program, she said. &uot;We have faculty who finished our nurse education track, but we want to bring in other individuals with other ideas.&uot;

In fact, effective nurse education today must be innovative and attuned to new technologies in health care.

&uot;We have to look at our curriculum, at the kinds of skills and knowledge base students need in today’s practice arena,&uot; she said. &uot;The Generation X students have grown up in a society that has highly technological expectations, highly different from a generation ago. And as faculty, we have to understand the needs of Generation X.&uot;

Hill sees a need for increasing the number of programs and classes on the Internet. &uot;Our state primarily is a rural state. We can reach the top potential students around the state with more on-line classes.&uot;

The record of Alcorn students who have gone on to work or to study in other areas is a stellar one. Hill has met that fact head on.

&uot;I was in North Carolina recently and met a faculty member from Duke University who was teaching one of our students from Alcorn and gave a glowing report of the student’s work there. To hear someone from a cutting-edge university give that kind of compliment to one of our students was very good to hear.&uot;

Classes began at the nursing school on Aug. 18. Enrollment is up. Hill is pleased. And she looks forward to putting her own foot forward as the first weeks of classes continue.

&uot;I’ve always shared with students how I have loved being a nurse &045; now all 36 years of it,&uot; she said with a pleased smile. &uot;It has afforded me so many opportunities, and I’ve taken advantage of those opportunities but have still remained a nurse.&uot;

Students who enter nursing school today can look forward to exciting careers, Hill said. &uot;There are so many avenues to take, hospital or community based.&uot; And students should come to Alcorn’s nursing program knowing that their charge is to become excellent practitioners who can care for a diverse clientele &045; locally, nationally or globally.

Hill grew up in Enterprise. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama; her master’s degree in medical-surgical nursing from the University of Maryland; and her doctorate in nursing administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In addition to her teaching position at the University of Mississippi, she has been on the faculty of Tuskegee Institute School of Nursing; Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City; Adelphi University School of Nursing in Garden City, N.Y.; and Downstate College of Nursing, State University of New York, in Brooklyn.

Hill has served as associate chief of nursing service for education at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Brooklyn; and as assistant director of nursing service at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital on Long Island.

She is married and the mother of two grown daughters, 25 and 23.