By Laura Phelps
For her outstanding service and dedication to students and to the University, Dr. Mary Gipson, Professor of Nursing in the Keigwin School of Nursing, was named Jacksonville University 2019-20 Professor of the Year.
Dr. Gipson was honored at the annual Faculty Recognition Dinner on March 29, where her fellow faculty members erupted in applause at the announcement. In her 19 years of teaching at undergraduate, graduate and doctorate levels at JU, Dr. Gipson has also served on the Faculty Executive Committee for several years, and served as Faculty Chair for the past two years.
WAVE Online sat down with Dr. Gipson after the big announcement to hear her unique perspectives on being an educator and a voice for the faculty.
WAVE: What do you love most about educating the next generation of nurses?
Dr. Gipson: “I love working with our next generation of nurses! Our nursing students have entered a competitive and rigorous program that prepares them well for their future in nursing. I get to work with our students both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. One day we have a classroom discussion about risk factors of a certain disease or condition, along with signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests, and collaborative patient care. The very next day in clinical we might be caring for a patient with that same condition. It truly is experiential learning at its best.”
“Nursing is a high-stakes field where people’s lives are literally in [nurses’] hands. With their first nursing positions, the learning curve is steep and the pressure is high.”2019-20 Professor of the Year Dr. Mary Gipson
“I also really enjoy seeing past graduates now having successful nursing careers, and seeing many of them return to JU for their masters or doctorate degrees. I’m currently working as the committee chair with three doctorate students I taught years ago as undergraduate nursing students. How cool is that?!”
WAVE: What’s the biggest challenge today’s nursing students face when they enter the job market and how do you prepare them to overcome that?
Dr. Gipson: “The JU Keigwin School of Nursing is a robust program that offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level, and our undergraduate nurses probably face the biggest challenge as they enter the job market. While our Keigwin graduates are hard working, excellent nurses who are job ready, nursing is a high-stakes field where people’s lives are literally in their hands. With their first nursing positions, the learning curve is steep and the pressure is high.”
“We try to prepare our graduates by facilitating a solid foundational knowledge base and providing mentorship for their success. We also regularly meet with our clinical partners to determine what we might do to even better prepare our students to be successful in their first nursing job.”
WAVE: You have served as the Chair of Faculty for the past two years. Tell us more about your role in that position.
Dr. Gipson: “At JU, faculty share the important responsibility with our administrative leaders for the success of our students. The Faculty leadership team works to represent and present the collective faculty voice to our administrative leaders as we advocate for our students and for our professional work environment. We consider our partnership very important.”
WAVE: What do you love most about your role as Chair of the Faculty?
Dr. Gipson: “I have been a member of the JU Faculty leadership team for several years and have found it to be a wonderful experience because of the many people that I’ve met, the relationships that have been built, and the successes we have seen together. I have come to appreciate that each of us — faculty, staff, and administration — contribute individually and collectively in unique ways to help facilitate our students’ success.”