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Taking Our Destiny Into Our Own Hands: Strategic Plan Offers Guideposts for NYUCD/NYUCN's Path Forward
 














"Institutional strategic plans," Dean Bertolami has noted, "are typically the product of an intense flurry of activity at the time of an impending institutional review or accreditation. They then repose undisturbed, occupying shelf space and collecting dust until a revision is called for five or ten years later."

Working collaboratively, the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing have sought to avoid this situation by creating a streamlined strategic plan that really is used-consulted frequently, updated often, and encouraging rather than discouraging both opportunism and synthesis. Despite the relative brevity of the document that follows, the aim is ambitious: To provoke a transformational change in the culture of the institution and, by extension, in education, research, and practice. This Strategic Plan aims, in short, to set a general direction, not to dictate operational details that can quickly become outmoded or irrelevant.

In preparing this strategic plan, the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing have sought to see ourselves as if for the first time, asking questions like: "What business are we really in?" "What special role do we play in the nation's and the world's higher education network?" "What attractive and important set of services does our institution provide that people cannot obtain elsewhere better, faster, cheaper?" "What comparative advantages do we have over approximately similar places?" "What academic fields and academic services will be most needed by our region, by our country, and by the world in the next decade?" "With our traditions, endowment, location, and collection of faculty, students, staff, and administrators, what should our school be building toward?" "What should our college aspire to be 10 years from now?"

We recognize that enthusiasm for fulfilling our mission stems, in part, from being able-when we are at our best-to envisage what kind of institution we would like to become and being sufficiently captivated by that vision to work cooperatively toward achieving it through stated operational goals. That vision, in turn, will offer a framework for guiding decisions on an intermediate and long-term basis.

Central to our effort has been a principle best expressed as follows:

"People are the driving force in successfully accomplishing change…People will believe in a plan they understand; they will support new processes and structures more readily if they have an opportunity to participate in developing them…The key to successful change [is] more open, collaboratively developed strategies, structures, and processes. The corollary is that collaboratively developed structures and processes also tend to be the most effective and profitable."* With that principle in mind, the strategic planning process has sought not to invent our values, but rather to discover them and then to align our strategic planning efforts with those consensus values.

We want to be seen as a community entranced by the potential of human capacity and by its conscientious development. We seek to be a place for those whose particular needs, desires, and gifts have led them here with the dream of improving themselves and others. The NYU College of Dentistry and the NYU College of Nursing seek to afford all sorts of people the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations as they pertain to the general and oral health sciences. At one extreme, this dream may be as simple as a parent bringing a child to NYU seeking a beautiful smile to enhance self-esteem and improve acceptance among peers. At the other extreme, it encompasses providing the most highly sophisticated educational programs for people seeking advanced postgraduate education in the dental and nursing specialties and the biological sciences.

It further encompasses the aspirations of college students whose career ambitions are to become dentists, nurses, or dental hygienists; individuals seeking master's and doctoral level education in the biological, biobehavioral, and biomaterials sciences; people who aspire to become research scientists whose discoveries will be a public benefaction; academically oriented individuals aiming to become university professors and administrators; faculty members seeking career advancement and a platform for contributing meaningfully to scholarship in their fields; alumni and other practitioners in the community who come to NYU for continual advancement in their knowledge and skills; and members of the public who will identify the college as a worthy beneficiary of their philanthropy.

The NYUCD/NYUCN strategic plan that is the result of this process is built on five pillars, which are designed to help us sketch out our future. They are not ends in themselves; rather, they are guideposts to help us discover what we really care about and are willing to commit ourselves to achieve. They are outlined on the following pages.

FACILITATING INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND MENTORSHIP

The Colleges are committed to the proposition that everyone needs to have a mentor and that everyone needs to be a mentor. This commitment requires that we place a high value on building and maintaining respectful, productive, supportive, collegial, nurturing relationships, interactions, and collaborations among the members of our community, including students, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and patients. In so doing, we will create a synergistic effect that will maximize the quality of education, research, patient care, and community service that we are able to offer. In support of these objectives, we will develop a framework based on data from a "climate survey" of our community that will enable us to:
• Institute programs to improve avenues of communication and dialogue among all members of our community
• Enhance cultural competence and sensitivity and a recognition of the benefits of diversity
• Develop a mentoring program for all
• Repurpose activities to maximize team building
• Create orientation and training programs for new members of our community
• Establish a leadership development program.

FOSTERING AND MAINTAINING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR EXCELLENCE

While the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing have made great strides in recent years, we must recognize that infrastructure needs are ongoing. Unless we provide for this need, our ability to achieve true excellence will be compromised.

To enable the Colleges to continue to attract the best students, faculty, administrators, and staff; create outstanding educational programs; become increasingly competitive for the national pool of research dollars; and impact health care locally, nationally, and internationally, the Colleges must apportion current and newly created assets to:
• Create additional new educational and research facilities and continue refurbishing existing facilities
• Invest in and utilize technologies to enhance education, research, patient care, and management systems
• Plan comprehensively to more efficiently and effectively utilize resources to match institutional priorities
• Eliminate redundancies in programs and inefficiencies in organizational structure and systems
• Develop and implement plans for ecologic sustainability.

LEVERAGING PARTNERSHIPS AMONG DENTISTRY, NURSING, AND DENTAL HYGIENE

The new paradigm of a College of Nursing within a College of Dentistry is designed to expand the scope of and access to primary care by transforming traditional models of education, research, and healthcare delivery. With the synergies that this partnership creates, new opportunities abound to address several of the most important challenges in health care in the United States and abroad, including the current practices of healthcare delivery, education, and research being conducted in "silos"; workforce shortages; access to evidence-based preventive health care; and health disparities.

The Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing have committed themselves to seizing these opportunities by leveraging expertise across disciplines and partnering with various funding agencies to create and assess new interdisciplinary research and practice models and to develop cross-disciplinary paradigms in the education of our students. Primary goals include:
• Creating innovative models for interdisciplinary research and practice that address health care disparities across a wide range of healthcare settings and diversified populations
• Refining existing educational programs at both colleges to incorporate the best practices of each discipline and provide opportunities for co-education and co-practice by dentists, nurses, dental hygienists, and other healthcare providers
• Communicating locally, nationally, and internationally to facilitate recognition of and appreciation for the underlying principles behind the nursing and dentistry partnership.

DEVELOPING MEN AND WOMEN OF SCIENCE

A foundational attribute for dentists and nurses as members of learned professions must be sheer intellectual curiosity-a trait as important for the clinician as for the scientist. Indeed, the kind of curiosity that demands and that says, "I must know" and that drives all scientific inquiry is, at its root, identical to the kind of curiosity that underlies clinical practice at its best. To nurture this attribute, research must become part of the daily fabric of the dental education process and must be continually reinforced and utilized in classrooms, clinics, and associated activities, creating an environment that encourages both faculty and students to monitor and embrace the latest science.

Not every graduate has to become a scientist, in the sense of becoming a producer of new knowledge; but a learned profession does require that every graduate be able to think for herself or himself, and be an intelligent user of research, able to critique it, and comfortable with the structure and syntax of modern biomedical science. A priority for the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing therefore is to educate all students to become "men and women of science," or, to put it another way, "sophisticated consumers of research," who continually seek and incorporate evidence-based philosophies into their practices; are competent to understand and critically evaluate published research findings; and who appropriately utilize their findings to promote quality clinical outcomes. Goals include:
• Strengthening our vibrant research programs, including translational and clinical research
• Revising our didactic, pre-clinical, and clinical curricula to further promote critical thinking through interactive teaching and learning and to support evidence-based practice and lifelong learning skills
• Prioritizing evidence-based practice as the central component of our faculty development program
• Exposing as many students as possible to research through a high-quality hands-on experience.

PROMOTING GLOBAL ACTIVITY

In keeping with New York University's vision of becoming a "global network university" with partnerships, joint programs, and campuses worldwide, NYUCD/NYUCN will build upon the strategic advantages we have already achieved as a result of more than 20 years as a recognized innovator in healthcare education, research, and dissemination of new information at the global level.

The Colleges currently impact global health through a wide range of activities, including advanced education programs for international dentists; outreach programs designed to provide students the opportunity to practice their clinical skills while providing much-needed health care-including nursing care-to underserved populations around the world; the creation of a sustainability program; study abroad opportunities for nursing students; and the opportunity to earn an MS degree in Oral/Dental Public Health, as part of a unique, all-University Master's Program in Global Public Health.

To take our commitment to improved global health to the next level, we will:
• Create and assess "mutual learning" models for best practices in underserved areas
• Educate regional providers to improve the health of their communities
• Partner with international academies and government agencies to assess and improve healthcare policies, education, and research
• Educate international scholars who will return to their home countries to teach as well as to practice.

In addition, in order to prepare our students to meet the challenges of a changing demographic, the Colleges will:
• Evaluate and, where appropriate, strengthen the teaching and integration of cultural competency into the Colleges' curricular offerings and patient care activities
• Provide faculty development programs in cultural competency
• Create opportunities for our students and faculty and other partners to study and engage in clinical activities abroad.

GOING FORWARD

Strategic planning cannot foretell the future and what issues will arise. As circumstances warrant, these themes may be further revised and extended. For now, they provide a starting point for a campus-wide engagement in shaping that future.