Massachusetts nursing executive Joan Vitello, PhD, has been named dean of the Graduate School of Nursing at UMass Medical School. Dr. Vitello, who will assume her new role on Nov. 16, was welcomed to the UMMS community by Provost Terence Flotte, MD, and outgoing GSN Dean Paulette Seymour Route, PhD, at a luncheon on Nov. 3.
“It’s a great time for nursing education as we ramp up to get more than 3 million nurses to be highly educated and able to practice to the full extent of their capabilities,” said Dr. Vitello, referencing the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 Future of Nursing report, which called for nurses to achieve higher levels of education and training to handle greater responsibilities and the increasing complexity of health care. In the tradition of her four predecessors, Vitello intends to advance the GSN’s contributions to the nursing workforce through interdisciplinary collaboration in an integrated academic health care environment.
“I believe educating people together and collaborating on research are the keys to our future,” she said. “Everyone I interviewed with here emphasized those two things.”
Vitello comes to UMMS from Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she’d worked since 2009, most recently as the associate chief nurse of cardiovascular, thoracic and surgical acute and critical care nursing, a role in which she was the co-executive leader of the Shapiro Heart & Vascular Center. After beginning her career as a staff nurse at several Boston hospitals, she rose through a number of management roles at Boston Medical Center, hospitals within the Caritas Christi Health Care System and Heywood Hospital. She then served as the chief nursing officer/chief operating officer of Lawrence Memorial Hospital before joining Brigham & Women’s.
In addition to mentoring graduate nursing students, coaching new nurses and teaching in several hospitals, Vitello has held adjunct faculty positions at Regis College and Bentley College. She earned her bachelor of nursing degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth), master of science in nursing from the University of Alabama; and her MA and PhD in human and organizational systems from the Fielding Graduate Institute.
Author of more than 70 articles, book chapters and research papers, Vitello served as past president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and, most recently, president of the Organization of Nurse Leaders of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In 2009 she was designated a “Living Legend” by the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses (now ANA-Massachusetts), and recently was recognized with the alumnae achievement award by UMass Dartmouth.
In addition to familiarizing herself with the UMMS community and the greater Worcester community, a short-term goal for Vitello is to continue to develop the strategic plan for the GSN that aligns with the medical school’s strategic plan. “I look forward to co-creating this blueprint with the faculty and the students, who I want to provide input as well,” she said.”
“Our new dean is an extraordinary nurse, an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary human being,” said Dr. Seymour Route. “I know she will take this school to the next level.”