Nurse holding heart in hands

Dean Frazier's Message Honoring National Nurses Week 2024

Dear Columbia Nursing Community,

Today marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a time to honor nurses and nursing’s central importance to our nation’s health. This year, this annual observance is occurring as our university—like institutions and communities everywhere—is experiencing turmoil related to the conflict in the Middle East. We are all affected by the loss of lives abroad and the subsequent upheaval in this country, especially on our campuses; the disruptions in our day-to-day lives now have many of us concerned for both our physical safety and our mental health. So I would like to begin this year’s Nurses Week tribute by bringing us back to nursing’s core values of human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism, and social justice, which have always guided us as we navigate tumultuous times.

In a diverse community like our school, we can expect disagreements, but our individual views and differences also give us strength. So as we remain mindful of the tumult around us, let us share our views with respect and kindness and seek solace in our school’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the patients and communities we serve through research, education, and practice—a legacy we have sustained and taken pride in ever since our founding 132 years ago.

I’m especially proud of our newest collaboration with CUIMC and ColumbiaDoctors: the launch of the Division of Nursing Practice, designed to foster nursing careers in service to excellent patient care by providing pathways and opportunities for the nursing workforce to excel and flourish. The Division will be offering continuing education opportunities and new channels for career support.

And perhaps our greatest source of pride—indeed, joy—will be seeing the students from all of our programs graduate in approximately one week’s time, bringing the world the nurses we all need, now more than ever.

My fondest wish is that our graduates find joy and meaning in their work and in their lives. Joy can be elusive when we are caring for terminally ill patients, working on short-staffed units, feeling that our job is pulling us in a dozen different directions, or navigating tough times. But there is joy to be found. We experience it through our connections with patients and when we mentor students and young nurses and watch them grow. Indeed, finding joy in our work is an act of self-care.

And caring for ourselves is imperative—now more than ever. Please remember, especially in times like these, that we care for and support all members of the communities we serve and are here for all of you. If you need support, please don’t hesitate to access the many health and well-being resources CUIMC and Columbia University have available for students, faculty, and staff.

So as we kick off National Nurses Week and look forward to next week’s commencement activities, please join me in honoring nurses everywhere and affirming the bonds of community and the sense of meaning that bring us joy.

Lorraine Frazier, RN, PhD, FAAN
Dean and Mary O’Neil Mundinger Professor
Senior Vice President, Columbia University Irving Medical Center