Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) will start the new year with a new leader for its nursing and allied health programs.
Amy Ackerson, who has led the department since 2012, stepped down as the dean of allied health and nursing Dec. 16 to become the education director/nurse manager at the Missouri State Board of Nursing (MSBN). She begins her new duties Jan. 3, 2023.
Lisa Wade, who has been with the nursing department nearly 10 years, has been appointed interim dean of allied health and nursing and will take over those duties Jan. 1, 2023.
“Amy has been a tremendous leader for our allied health and nursing division,” said Dr. Michael Orf, vice chancellor of academic affairs. “During her time as its leader, the division has seen tremendous growth with the expansion of the nursing program to include the LPN-to-RN bridge program. In addition, two new programs – health information technology and community behavioral health support – have been added to serve the needs of the community. Amy will be missed, both as a leader in the division and as a campus leader.”
More about Ackerson
Ackerson joined MSU-WP’s nursing faculty as a lecturer Aug. 18, 2008, and was appointed as instructor June 1, 2012. She was granted tenure Aug. 10, 2015, and was promoted to assistant professor Aug. 14, 2017. She began serving as the division chair of allied health and nursing in 2012 and was named associate dean in 2020. In August, she was named dean.
MSU-WP’s nursing and allied health programs grew tremendously during Ackerson’s tenure. New programs such as health information technology were created, and existing programs like the regular RN track and the LPN-to-RN track nursing programs were expanded. All programs saw improvement in ongoing positive outcomes. Ackerson credits the entire allied health and nursing team for these accomplishments.
“Right now, the project I am most proud of is the online LPN-to-RN bridge program,” she said. “It was very much a little idea that, with the right people in place, has exploded with demand and potential. I am also very proud of the division’s ability to think outside the box and create innovative solutions that are student centered. Not all nursing programs have embraced today’s learner like the program at MSU-WP.
“Our greatest accomplishment in my tenure has been to develop a culture in the nursing program that no other program has. We have a caring, second-chances-work mentality,” Ackerson said. “While we have policies, we also understand that our students are unique. To teach a profession of caring, we have to model an atmosphere of caring. I think we exemplify that more today than ever before, and Lisa Wade is the best choice to continue this culture in the division.”
More about Wade
Wade echoed that focus on caring in her vision for the department’s future. “I want to foster the success and growth of the nursing and allied health programs. My focus will be centered around student success, faculty and staff support, and community partnerships.
“I think individual faculty members will grow and further develop in their areas of strength and passion,” she added. “Teamwork and collaboration will be essential to our continued success. And I think program expansion, while continuing to provide high quality education, is always a goal.”
The addition of the new lecture hall and hospital simulation lab at Looney Hall, which houses the allied health and nursing programs, will provide new learning opportunities to students and the community by providing the space needed to increase student enrollment, Wade explained.
“I have a true passion and love for nursing and health care,” Wade said. “I love being able to foster the education of our future nurses and health care workers, who in turn will give back to our community.
“I am extremely humbled to be considered for this position,” she added. “I have a lot of pride in working for the university. I am proud of the university’s role in our community, and I’m excited to continue to be a part of it moving forward.”
Wade first joined the nursing faculty as an instructor on Aug. 13, 2012. She was promoted to assistant professor and received tenure on Aug. 14, 2017. She resigned from the university Dec. 31, 2019, but was rehired as clinical assistant professor on Aug. 16, 2021.
“Several outstanding faculty members have been hired during Amy’s tenure as division leader, including Lisa Wade,” Orf said. “Lisa will serve as interim dean over the next year. We feel that the division is in good hands under Lisa’s leadership.”
Ackerson’s new position
In her new role with the MSBN, Ackerson will advise, monitor and evaluate compliance of nursing programs to state regulations as outlined in the nurse practice acts of Missouri. She also will provide regulatory guidance to all nursing programs at all levels in the state.
While she is excited about this new opportunity, Ackerson said she will miss her MSU-WP coworkers and students tremendously.
“I have had the pleasure of developing the most wonderful relationships with all the faculty and staff through the years, and it has been extremely difficult to say goodbye to them,” she said. “MSU-WP is gifted with a staff that is innovative, intelligent and very kind. The students make every day worth it and make the job not feel like work. To see students succeed is a feeling that only an educator can understand. It is a thrill.
“I doubt I will ever find another work community that is this cohesive and amazing,” she added. “I can’t believe I had the privilege to work here every day. It was a blessing to me in a million different ways. Thank you for believing in me and my silly ideas!”