Mercy College Announces Launch of New School of Nursing and Inaugural Dean

Mercy Nursing students get hands-on learning experiences at our state-of-the-art simulation labs

The launch of the School of Nursing will enable Mercy to further enhance its nursing programs, better serve its students and help meet the growing need for nurses in the Tri-State area and across the nation.

Today, Mercy College announced the launch of a new School of Nursing and the appointment of Dr. Kenya V. Beard, Ed.D., AGACNP-BC, ANEF, FAAN, as the inaugural dean of the new school. The launch of the School of Nursing will enable Mercy to further enhance its nursing programs, better serve its students and help meet the growing need for nurses in the Tri-State area and across the nation. Dr. Beard, who has spent more than two decades in higher education working to narrow the academic achievement gap and strengthen workforce diversity in nursing, will work collaboratively with faculty and staff to inaugurate the School of Nursing, which officially launches on July 1st, 2023.

The new School of Nursing will house Mercy’s full suite of nursing programs, which were previously part of the School of Health and Natural Sciences; these include traditional four-year undergraduate prelicensure programs and an accelerated second-degree program for those with existing bachelor’s degrees in other fields, and master’s programs in Nursing Education, Nursing Administration and Family Nurse Practitioner studies.

“There is a great demand for highly trained nurses, and over the last 8 years, Mercy has been working to expand its nursing programs to help alleviate the nursing shortage,” said Tim Hall, president of Mercy College. “Today’s announcement furthers Mercy’s mission and commitment to continue investing in its programs to meet the demands of the region’s workforce.”

“Organizing our Nursing programs within a School enables us to design and deliver more impactful learning opportunities for current and prospective students, and this is truly exciting,” said Dr. Eva Fernández, provost and vice president of academic affairs for Mercy College. “With her background and expertise, I am confident that Dr. Beard will enrich the School of Nursing’s programs and help our students achieve success.”

“I am delighted to be joining Mercy College as it prepares to launch its new School of Nursing,” said Dr. Beard, dean of the School of Nursing for Mercy College. “As an educator and a nurse, I recognize our critical role in preparing future nurses to meet the health care needs of our communities. I look forward to working with the nursing faculty at Mercy to provide nursing education tracks that address the needs of today’s pluralistic society.”

There is an estimated need for more than 200,000 new registered nurses nationally each year through 2026 to replace retirees and fill new positions according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mercy College has been educating nurses for more than 45 years, first at the Baccalaureate level and since 1981 at the master’s level as well. Over the last several years, Mercy has grown its nursing programs to offer more in-demand undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This includes the four-year-traditional nursing program, which has tripled in size since its inception in 2015 and the accelerated second-degree nursing program and the Family Nurse Practitioner master’s program, both introduced in 2019 when Mercy absorbed more than 300 nursing students from the College of New Rochelle (CNR) as part of a teach-out agreement due to its closing. In 2021, Mercy started a weekend accelerated second degree program at the Bronx Campus to offer those who work during the week the opportunity to earn their degree.

Mercy has more than 1,100 students currently enrolled in its nursing programs, and awards over 400 nursing degrees annually. Many of Mercy’s graduates go on to work in area hospitals, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York Presbyterian, New York University Langone, Northwell Health System, BronxCare Health System, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Montefiore, White Plains Hospital and Westchester Medical Center.

The School of Nursing programs prepare students to become registered professional nurses who are ethical, competent, knowledgeable, caring, respectful, and compassionate leaders. From its skilled faculty to its curriculum and facilities, Mercy is well positioned to create learning environments that support clinical judgment and academic excellence.

Mercy offers state-of-the-art classrooms that replicate real-world clinical labs and hospital environments in the Dobbs Ferry and Bronx Campuses. They include the interdisciplinary clinical simulation and learning labs, which will be used even more with the recent passing of that allows nursing students to complete up to one third of their clinical training through simulation experiences. These labs provide opportunities for hands-on learning experiences in settings that simulate in-patient, clinic, and home settings. Video capture provides opportunities to review students' performance with them to provide feedback for improvement in skills and interactions. There are eight Laerdal simulation manikins, including Sim Baby, Sim Mom and Sim Junior. Additional simulation resources include Sim Capture and Scenario Cloud, which offer current scenario content, and Sim Lab Electronic health record. In addition, nursing students have access to the Health Assessment Lab which allows them to learn to conduct health assessments in a setting supplied with equipment typically seen in hospitals and clinics. Each student is assigned a mentor, as part of Mercy’s nationally recognized Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) program, who works closely with nursing leadership to ensure nursing students understand the nursing policies and grade requirements and are prepared for clinicals. They also assist students by providing information on financial services, tutoring and counseling.

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About Dr. Kenya Beard
Dr. Beard is a proven leader and educator who has amplified the importance of creating learning environments that value diverse perspectives. Prior to her appointment at Mercy, Dr. Beard served as associate provost at Chamberlain University. Her vision of strengthening the preparedness of faculty to meet the needs of today’s nursing students resulted in the creation of the first Nurse Faculty Residency program in the country. The Harvard Macy Institute’s Program for Educators in the Health Professions supports her workshop, “Leading in a Race-Conscious Society” and as a 2012 Macy Faculty Scholar, she founded the Center for Multicultural Education and Health Disparities. Her publications and research have focused on best practices to move the needle on diversity, inclusion and health equity. Dr. Beard led the New York State Action Coalition in constructing the New York State Diversity and Inclusion in Nursing Tool Kit in 2014, contributed to the National League for Nursing’s 2016 Diversity Vision Statement, and served as a reviewer for the National Academy of Medicine’s Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report.

Dr. Beard served on the New York State Board of Nursing and, as chair, led efforts to ensure the professional readiness of nurses. She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Nursing, and the Academy of Nursing Education. She serves on the advisory council for the American Academy of Nursing’s Institute for Nursing Leadership and is an editorial board member for the American Journal of Nursing. She has received numerous accolades, including the National Association of Health Services Executives, NY Regional Chapter’s prestigious President’s Award in 2021, the National Black Nurses Association’s Trailblazer Award and the Greater New York City Black Nurses Association’s Nurse Educator of the Year in 2022.

Dr. Beard completed her AAS and BSN degrees at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing and Excelsior College in New York, respectively. She earned her MSN at Stony Brook University and Ed.D. in Educational Administration at Dowling College.

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