Loyola Nursing launches new strategic plan

Loyola Nursing launches new strategic plan

The strategic plan was developed with extensive input from stakeholders and "charts a strong path forward for our future," Dean Lorna Finnegan said.

The Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing has launched a new five-year strategic plan that builds on the school’s Jesuit tradition of care for the whole person and prioritizes academic excellence, research, and diversity.  

The strategic plan is the result of a two-year process that included sustained engagement with students, faculty, staff, and community partners. The result is a roadmap that advances Loyola Nursing’s mission of preparing compassionate, clinically skilled nurses and its vision of being a transformative leader in social justice and health care equity.  

Moreover, the strategic plan exemplifies the school’s relationship-centered approach to nursing education and patient care.  

“This is a plan that was really built from the ground up, with input from our students, faculty, alumni, and practice partners, and charts a strong path forward for our future,” Dean Lorna Finnegan said. “It expands on our foundation of excellence and looks at how we can best meet the emerging needs of the nursing profession, including the demand for more nurses of color, and improve health outcomes for historically under-represented patients and communities.” 

Loyola Nursing offers a number of nationally recognized degree and certificate programs and is ranked among the top 5 percent of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in the country. The school recently marked a significant milestone with the graduation of its first cohort of students who were prepared as nurse practitioners in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and last year received the prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for Health Professions Schools in recognition of its expanding inclusive excellence programming. 

Finnegan noted that the strategic plan addresses diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in multiple areas of the school’s life and supports the transition to a competency-based education, consistent with national standards. It also puts forth ambitious goals for the school’s growing research program, which has hired five tenure track nurse scientists in the past two years and increased its research funding by 23 percent in four years.  

The strategic plan outlines 11 key strategies for the school’s future, ranging from developing faculty and staff to a renewed commitment to expanding its network of mentors and external collaborators.  

The strategies are:  

  • Educational excellence 
  • Resilience and well-being 
  • Leadership development 
  • Comprehensive faculty practice and partnerships 
  • Transformative research and scholarship 
  • Resource generation 
  • Operational efficiency 
  • Constituent fidelity 
  • Human capital 
  • Information capital/technology 
  • Organizational capital 

A 20-member strategic visioning task force, composed of faculty and staff, led development of the plan, starting by examining how Loyola University Chicago’s enduring values connected with the school’s values. The group updated the school’s mission statement and wrote a new vision statement that emphasizes Loyola Nursing’s intent to be a leader in transforming the health of persons, families, communities, and populations.  

Dawn Carter, staff co-chair and the school’s director of administrative operations, said reflections shared by faculty and staff at a retreat kickstarted the strategic visioning process.  

“Those reflections about what Loyola’s mission meant to them stayed with me and provided fuel for my work in this role,” she added.  

Professor Lisa Burkhart, faculty co-chair, said that “at each meeting, our mantra was, ‘this plan is not dictated to us, but reflects us.’ The process was as important as the outcome. 

“This strategic plan truly reflects who we are and what we are called to be as the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.”