A full year has passed with us trying to make sense of this new and ever-changing environment that we find ourselves in. While I hoped the word “COVID-19” would not be found on the pages of this issue of The Gator Nurse, it seems the virus has other plans for us. Although the last year has been challenging for all of us, we remain optimistic at the UF College of Nursing and continue to celebrate many achievements.
I am elated that the new Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Laboratory has finally come to fruition. As you will read in this issue, our new lab is so much more than just a simulation and skills lab. This lab represents our commitment to our students, to education, to clinical care and to innovation. Every inch of the space is intentional in how we can achieve the best environment for students to be fully prepared as nurses. These future nurses are introduced to real-life clinical experiences and are prepared with the knowledge and skills to care for their future patients. It also allows the opportunity for interdisciplinary researchers, organizations and faculty to collaborate on projects that will have an impact on our world.
I never grow tired of talking about the Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab. The renovation and completion of the lab is one of the highlights of my career as dean at the UF College of Nursing. I am so proud and grateful for the foundations and the individuals who financially supported the construction and equipment thus far. We have come a long way, and as technology evolves and updates are needed, we are obligated to evolve too.
Speaking of evolutions, I continue to be amazed by our faculty, students and alumni who have unwaveringly adapted and triumphed throughout the pandemic’s incessant changes. Our faculty members have found creative ways to connect with their students through social media, DNP student Taylor Bell received a national leadership scholarship and alumni and friends answered a call to “Stand Up and Holler” for the College of Nursing.
I want to thank all of you for all you have done to support nursing throughout the past year. I know we are all weary, but the end truly is in sight! I am finding reassurance in the vaccine and am confident our lives will return to normal soon.
I look forward to normal. I look forward to seeing faces, traveling and giving hugs. But, for now, we must all continue to do our part and remain vigilant in practicing hand hygiene, maintaining physical distance and wearing proper face coverings.
Anna M. McDaniel, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Professor