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Pilon celebrated for VUSN community partnership efforts

Dec. 18, 2014, 10:10 AM

Vanderbilt and community members came together in the Langford Lobby last week to recognize Bonnie Pilon, Ph.D., R.N., who is stepping down from her role as senior associate dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing at the end of this month.

Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., dean of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, left, talks with Bonnie Pilon, Ph.D., R.N., at a reception honoring Pilon’s tenure as VUSN’s senior associate dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Pilon has been in the role for 15 years, including leading the School’s Health Care Leadership Master’s Program for 13 years and teaching in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Nationally, she is known as a staunch advocate of nurses “practicing at the top of their license,” a cornerstone of the Institute of Medicine “Future of Nursing” report.

“Nursing attracts people who want to make a difference. Bonnie has built an innovative faculty practice network that increases access to quality care for a significant portion of our community’s underserved,” said Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing and dean of VUSN. “As a leader, she has imprinted an indelible mark on the school, and will continue to be a tremendous asset to our students and a valued mentor to our faculty.”

Under Pilon’s leadership, VUSN has seen explosive growth in its faculty practice network, and many sites also provide VUSN students with clinical experiences. The school currently operates West End Women’s Health Center, a main practice site for the Nurse-Midwives, employer health sites at Opryland Hotel, five sites for Metro Nashville Public School employees and the Clinic at Mercury Court.

When Pilon became the senior associate dean in 1999, VUSN had 7,000 unique patients and nurse-midwives delivered 42 babies. By 2008, VUSN faculty and staff were providing care to more than 30,000 individual encounters before she successfully converted Vine Hill Community Clinic and affiliated sites to a Federally Qualified Health Center. The nurse midwives practice has grown to more than 1,200 deliveries at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

She also was awarded $6.4 million in federal grants and $1.25 million in foundation grants to support clinical practice in the community during her tenure.

“Bonnie is tremendously effective at what she does,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“She has the mind of a nurse scientist, the heart of a community organizer and the business acumen of an entrepreneur. Those traits plus her tenacity have helped thousands of people throughout Middle Tennessee through improved and accessible health care.”

Pilon is taking a yearlong sabbatical to conduct research on the culture and historical development of nurse-managed health centers across the country She will resume her VUSN teaching role in 2016.

Pam Jones, DNP, MSN, R.N., former chief nursing officer at Vanderbilt University Hospital, will assume the role of senior associate dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships in January.

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