June 23, 2000

VUSN announces new deans of Research, Practice

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Peter Buerhaus, Ph.D.

VUSN announces new deans of Research, Practice

Bonita Pilon, DSN

Bonita Pilon, DSN

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing recently welcomed two new faculty members — Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., as Valere Potter Professor of Nursing and associate dean for Research, and Bonita A. Pilon, DSN, as the associate dean for Practice and professor of the Practice of Nursing.

Buerhaus comes to Vanderbilt from the Harvard School of Public Health, where he was the director of the Harvard Nursing Research Institute.

As the associate dean for research at VUSN, he will supervise the Joint Center for Nursing Research, which is the basic infrastructure supporting research, including grants management and peer review. He will also oversee the VUSN Ph.D. program.

"Working with the faculty here gives me the opportunity to help build and grow current and future researchers, strengthen their careers, and advance the research mission of the school," he says. "My goal is to look for opportunities for School of Nursing faculty to participate and/or lead research initiatives that involve other non-nursing faculty and researchers both across the university and larger research community."

Buerhaus has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters and various papers on a variety of topics concerning the nurse labor market and the health care system.

He is heavily involved in several research projects that focus on the nursing workforce. Examples of his studies include: analyzing employment and earnings of nursing personnel; investigating the affects of managed care on the nurse labor market; and assessing the implications of a rapidly aging workforce on the future supply of RNs.

A top priority for Buerhaus is attaining a solid understanding of the research focus and direction of VUSN so that he can work with the faculty in developing a plan to capitalize and maximize its strengths.

Pilon is returning to Vanderbilt full time after three years as a consultant and some part-time teaching at the school.

She will focus on the nursing faculty practice — working as an advocate for the more than 36 active practices that employ advance nurse practitioners in various areas including geriatric, women's health, pediatric, midwifery, occupational health, family practice and adult acute care.

"Nurse practitioners and midwives have a lot of utility and are efficient in managing patients in multiple settings," Pilon says.

"They are sometimes referred to as physician extenders. In Tennessee advance practice nurses independently prescribe medications, manage patient illnesses and manage women's health, including childbirth.

“They also work in collaborative practices with physicians in every health care setting from rural clinics to academic health science centers."

Pilon oversees the VUSN practice faculty who are under contract with an agency as well as those operating under independent arrangements and collaborative partnerships with physicians.

Her duties include assisting these practices to set budgets, working as liaison with Vanderbilt Medical Group Network Practices, handling strategic issues and staying updated on clinical and financial issues concerning the practices.

There are several major initiatives she plans to tackle during the coming year, including the opening of an on-campus midwifery practice in Medical Center North in July.

"We are working closely with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to integrate midwifery into the breadth of maternity services available to women who choose Vanderbilt for their childbirth experience," she says.

"Our midwives have been delivering at the medical center for several years, but this is our first opportunity for an on-site clinic."

Pilon is also interested in resolving payer issues that challenge advance practice nurses' ability to generate income for their services.