A conversation with Dean Wysocki


Published May 1, 2023

Annette Wysocki.

Annette B. Wysocki has been dean of the School of Nursing since July 2022. She came to UB from Stony Brook University, where she served as dean and professor of nursing. A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, her research focuses on the pathophysiology of delayed healing in chronic wounds.

As we begin National Nurses Month, Wysocki talks with UBNow about her vision for the school and increasing the presence of students and faculty in the community.

The School of Nursing is beginning the process of creating a new five-year strategic plan. What are the main areas of focus, and how will these help the university to achieve its Top 25 Ambition?

We are moving forward to discuss our aspirations to continue to grow and expand our educational programs amid the challenges of high workforce demands coupled with a constrained financial environment. There is a high need to support scholarships for undergraduate students who are entry-level practitioners; graduate doctor of nursing practice (DNP) students who will, over time, provide up to 40% of the primary care delivered in the health care system; and for research intensive doctoral or doctor of philosophy (PhD) students who will become the leading research scientists and faculty of the future at a time when there is a severe faculty shortage in the nursing profession.

We aim to double the number of NIH-funded investigators in the school so we can generate new science to support innovations in patient, family and community care. We also have exciting new plans underway to create a faculty practice-plan initiative that will provide the ability to improve care in the community; this will also create opportunities to precept students and draw potential research partnerships to improve health. That creates a triple win where we can all work together — the community, the students and the faculty — to improve health outcomes for all. These efforts directly parallel the objectives of the Top 25 Ambition, which focuses on societal impact, innovative educational experience and building meaningful, strong partnerships in the region.

You’ve expressed excitement for the school’s growing research portfolio. What are your plans for continuing this trajectory, and how does expanding research opportunities contribute to the success of the school and the university?

Research is one of the hallmarks of our Top 25 aspirations —we are already in an elite group of 90 nursing institutions among more than 900 in the nation that have funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). And we are the only SUNY nursing program with any NIH funding. Sadly, Congress has underinvested in funding the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at NIH and this has severe consequences for schools of nursing and undermines the ability of faculty to conduct research and improve the health of our communities. Our data demonstrate that NINR funding needs to increase to at least $763 million to adequately support nurse scientists in schools of nursing so we can improve health.

We are working to put in place solid mentoring for our junior faculty so they can realize their full potential and provide pilot funding to generate preliminary data for competitive grant applications. Meanwhile, we continue to support our funded faculty members with the time and effort they need to conduct their research studies that also support the education of our students. We want to continue to foster the synergy where the convergence of research, education and improving the health of the community/nation intersect to fully magnify the collective energy that we can bring to the community as we partner with them. Our goal resulting from these efforts is to promote and restore health — the core mission of nursing.

You’ve been with the School of Nursing since July 2022 and have been actively meeting with current and prospective alumni, donors and community partners. How do you envision these constituents helping to advance the mission and goals of the school?

Meeting with our alumni, generous donors and community members has been a wonderful introduction to the community — their support is vital to our success as a School of Nursing. Their dedication and passion for the school is a refreshing source of energy and vital talent. We have such talent among our faculty, alumni and community partners, and we will continue to work together so we can fully realize the potential of the school to achieve our educational, research and practice missions. We will be reaching out to them to form a Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) so that we can draw on their talent to help us achieve more together as partners on our journey. I am so inspired by the words carved into the original pins designed for the School of Nursing: “Let Each Become All That He Is Capable of Being.” Together with our new aspirations as a school and our Dean’s Advisory Committee, we can work to achieve all that we are collectively capable of being.

Western New York offers robust opportunities for faculty and student engagement. What is your vision for increasing the School of Nursing’s presence in the community, and how will this benefit our students and community members?

The Western New York community is rich with opportunities for our students and faculty to make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors. We are working earnestly to revitalize and partner with the United Ministries of Buffalo as we emerge from the intensity of a global pandemic to provide community health screenings. This positions our students in the community to provide blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol screening, and provide referrals to improve health as part of the Million Hearts® initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We continue to seek and build new partnerships with local media who also sponsor programs to improve health in the community.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to live and work in the territory of the Seneca Nation, members of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Confederacy, who continue to reside here. We want to learn more about how we can partner with the Haudenosaunee people to exchange ideas and to contribute to their health. We owe them great respect for the honor of living and working on the grounds of their nation, and we hope our actions will prove us worthy of this privilege.

Among our highest hopes for the future is to create a faculty practice plan, “UBWell,” that will become a vehicle to deliver care so we and other partnering health science schools can bring resources and health care to our neighbors and community members. Improving the health of people involves coordination of effort, inspired leadership, passion, deep commitment and dedication. Only together can we really make a difference in the health and lives of the community.