(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Friday approved Sharon Wilkerson, Ph.D., R.N., as the dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. Dr. Wilkerson has been acting dean and professor in the college since its July 2008 inception.

“Our mission of producing nurses for Texas and the nation continues to be vital due to the increasing nursing shortage,” Dr. Wilkerson said. “As dean, I look forward to propelling the College of Nursing into national prominence as a center of excellence in education of both undergraduate and graduate nurses.”

A staff nurse with experience treating a wide range of patients, Dr. Wilkerson’s specialty is pediatrics. She was a clinical nurse specialist for children with respiratory problems and a researcher for several years, conducting evidence-based research on nursing care. She has worked in undergraduate and graduate nursing education for more than 15 years.

“Dr. Wilkerson has already proven herself as a faculty recruiter, a program developer, and a student advocate,” said Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., President of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for The Texas A&M University System. “She was an excellent candidate when compared to the group of candidates who applied from across the nation. I look forward to her taking the same energy and talent that quickly got our program off the ground and using that talent to establish the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing as an innovative, problem-solving, go-to school.”

Dr. Wilkerson previously was an associate professor at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which collaborated with the HSC in providing an “accelerated” nursing program for students in the Bryan-College Station area. Prior to that, she was assistant head for graduate studies, director of doctoral program development and associate professor at the Purdue University School of Nursing. She also has been with Indiana University as an associate professor and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Mich., as director of nursing research and resources.

Current research efforts for Dr. Wilkerson involve premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Studies include implementing of kangaroo care (holding a preterm or full term infant for skin-to-skin contact between the infant and person holding it), development care in the NICU, parenting skills with premature infants and, most recently, hearing development in the premature infant.

Dr. Wilkerson graduated in three years from the Hermann Hospital School of Nursing in Houston before obtaining a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Houston and a B.S.N. from the University of Hawaii. She has an M.S. in Nursing specializing in pediatrics and nursing education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Nursing specializing in families from Wayne State University in Detroit. She completed a post-doctoral clinical nurse scholar fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the University of Rochester.

Reporting to the president of the Texas A&M Health Science Center as the dean of the HSC-College of Nursing, Dr. Wilkerson will serve as the chief administrative, academic and fiscal officer of the college. She will have primary responsibility for planning, implementation, administration, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of all academic curricula, support services and administrative functions of the college, along with primary responsibility for its growth, development and accreditation. She will also be charged with demonstrating responsibility and leadership within the HSC, the A&M System and in the local, state and national arenas in addressing critical issues related to the nursing work force.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program was initiated in August 2008 with 44 students. The HSC-College of Nursing offers three different “tracks” for the baccalaureate-level nursing program: a standard generic B.S.N. requiring two years of prerequisite courses plus two years of nursing curricula; an accelerated B.S.N. program for individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field; and an R.N.-to-B.S.N. program allowing registered nurses with associate degrees to complete additional course work to earn their B.S.N. degrees.

Efforts are continuing to secure accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and establish a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree program.

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