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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Mary Ellen Smith Glasgow

Dean and Professor, Duquesne University
Gwynedd Mercy University (PA), Class of 1983
Mary Ellen Smith Glasgow, PhD, RN, FAAN, joined the Duquesne University School of Nursing as dean and professor in August 2012. Her research interests include safety and inter-professional simulation and leadership development in nursing. Previously, she held administrative positions at Drexel University, where she developed the BSN Co-op Program, BSN Accelerated Career Entry Program, RN-BSN Online Program, Pathway to Health Professions Program, and other forward-thinking educational programs. In addition, she had overall responsibility for the Division of Continuing Nursing Education from 2005–2012.

Glasgow completed a fellowship at Bryn Mawr College and the Higher Education Resource Services’ Mid-America Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration. She served as the associate editor for Oncology Nursing Forum responsible for the Leadership and Professional Development feature from 2008 to 2012. Glasgow was a trustee of Princeton HealthCare System and was selected as a 2009 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation executive nurse fellow. She was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Gwynedd-Mercy University in 2013. In 2010, she was honored with the Villanova University College of Nursing Alumni Medallion for Distinguished Contribution to Nursing Education.

She has over 60 publications, 120 national and international presentations, and recently co-authored two books, Role Development for Doctoral Advanced Nursing Practice (2011), the recipient of the 2011 AJN Book of the Year Award, and Legal Issues Confronting Today’s Nursing Faculty: A Case Study Approach (2012), the recipient of the 2012 AJN Book of the Year Award.

Glasgow received her BSN from Gwynedd-Mercy College, MSN from Villanova University, and PhD from Duquesne University School of Nursing.
When one thinks of the nursing profession, one does not generally think about a liberal arts education; however, all successful professional careers require critical thinking, teamwork, sensitivity to cultural and societal differences, and the ability to express oneself effectively verbally and in writing. A liberal arts education provides an important foundation, and I would argue that such a foundation is even more critical today. The average person is expected to have approximately seven jobs in their lifetime requiring flexibility, the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve simple and complex problems.

When one thinks of the nursing profession, one does not generally think about a liberal arts education; however, all successful professional careers require critical thinking, teamwork, sensitivity to cultural and societal differences, and the ability to express oneself effectively verbally and in writing.

As a nursing major at Gwynedd Mercy University, I was expected to learn and ultimately possess ethical judgment and integrity, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to demonstrate the capacity for lifelong learning. A heavy emphasis on critical thinking and ethics provided me with important life tools in my own career as an oncology/bone marrow transplant nurse and later as a nursing professor and dean of the Duquesne University School of Nursing. I can honestly attribute many of my skills as a nurse, academic, and author to my formative years at Gwynedd Mercy University.
 
In the future, keen critical-thinking skills will continue to be paramount as new medical knowledge is generated and current traditional treatments become obsolete while the health care system simultaneously expands in complexity. A strong foundation in the liberal arts especially ethics education will be required as many nurses grapple with moral distress and acquire the moral courage to do the right thing when confronted by ethical dilemmas that are now pervasive in organizations. No one knows what the future will hold, but a liberal arts foundation is wonderful preparation to respond to a broad spectrum of societal needs and serve one’s profession and community irrespective of one’s discipline.
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