A few months on the job as the new dean of the Marieb College of Health and Human Services, Ann Cary, Ph.D. RN, is motivated to make a mark on Florida Gulf Coast University and Southwest Florida healthcare.
“I see unlimited opportunities for growth of the university and the Marieb College,” Cary said. “I like the fact that the college had a committed major donor who was really invested in adding her legacy and name to enrich what she saw in the programs, faculty and students in the college. That leadership pathway attracted me to select Marieb College as well.”
She was referring to Elaine Nicpon Marieb, for whom the college and the building in which it is situated, are named. The nurse, textbook author, professor and philanthropist donated $15 million to the college.
Cary envisions enlarging the college’s national presence. She plans to take an approach that would not only make Marieb the hub for healthcare workforce education regionally, but put the college and FGCU on the map as a resource for healthcare workforce innovation. She is interested in working with local legislators to create ways to help communities develop the means to provide appropriate healthcare. Cary sees Marieb College playing a leading and collaborative role in creating a stronger culture of health in Southwest Florida.
“If Marieb College can focus on health and keeping our populations healthy, then our aging population is going to live longer and their quality of life is going to be higher,” she said. “Whatever we can do to promote the health aspect of healthcare would be a major value to this community.”
Cary has worked as faculty at undergraduate and graduate programs, directed campus-based and online master’s and doctoral programs in public health and nursing, growing specialty areas and enrollments. She comes to FGCU from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
“Dr. Cary’s credentials are sterling,” said FGCU Interim Provost Jim Llorens. “She has served in leadership positions at several major universities, and has previously held and currently holds positions in several nursing and health service organizations. Most significantly, Dr. Cary currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing – the voice of academic nursing in the U.S.”
FGCU’s newest dean has held past administrative positions as a dean in academic health centers at UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, associate dean for students and alumni at Louisiana State University Health Science Center, as well as an associate dean for academics at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a director of programs in private and public institutions of higher education in nursing and public health and in academic health centers.
“Dr. Cary’s vision and strategy to build on the foundation of Marieb, built by former deans, and expand its offerings and outreach to Southwest Florida was innovative and aggressive,” Llorens said. “FGCU is fortunate to have Dean Cary as a member of our leadership team.”
With a national nursing and health professions shortage, Cary is interested in exploring and developing with faculty an accelerated nursing program, additional advanced practice nursing specialties, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, more research activities, and expanded interprofessional education experiences for students and faculty within Marieb College. For example, the accelerated nursing degree can allow students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field to earn a bachelor of science in nursing in a shorter, intense time period. She also is looking to build a pipeline for students to graduate and rapidly accelerate their careers in the growing healthcare industry in the area.
“I am identifying partnerships in the industry that are going to employ the next generation of a diverse workforce and who are willing to invest in those expansion efforts. This entails exploring where can I leverage one investment from the community into a matching investment with another partner. I am examining ways in which we can increase the investment pipeline for Marieb, so it’s not a one-and-done,” said Cary.
To make this happen, Cary is planning to institute more technology through virtual reality tools and hologram technology in the classroom to help educate future healthcare providers. Cary also sees opportunities to collaborate with a variety of healthcare professionals and healthcare enterprises within and outside the university community.
“I love the idea that I am able to lead, serve and collaborate with such a talented group of interprofessional educators and community partners to create and attend to the vision of how the healthcare workforce pipeline and healthcare delivery systems will be operating in the future,” Cary said.