Carruth influencing the nursing program

Jennifer Dettwiller

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For the past six years, Dr. Ann Carruth has held positions as the Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences for the university and is on the board of commissioners at the North Oaks Health System. Carruth has continued her journey with holding a title at North Oaks Health System of Vice Chairman of the board of commissioners. Jennifer Dettwiller/The Lion’s Roar

By serving in two influential positions, Dean for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dr. Ann Carruth provides initiative to the Tangipahoa Parish community.

Chairman of Board Commissioners Ron Macaluso feels Carruth is an asset in “academic and practical” ways for both the board of the North Oaks Health System and her contributions as dean for the college of nursing.

“She is very knowledgeable,” said Macaluso. “The depth of her experience as an administrator at Southeastern, as well as having been an active practicing nurse, is a contribution to the board that is immeasurable. She’s a very dedicated and conscientious person, and really I think everyone around her benefits from her participation. I don’t know really how much we contribute to her journey, but she certainly does for us.”

Holding both positions for about six years now, Carruth expressed her feelings towards them.

Carruth said, “It’s an honor to be able to be the dean of nursing and health sciences and to have, on the one hand, the opportunity to work with really great faculty and students in meeting the educational needs of the region, and at the same time being part of a health system and learning from everybody at North Oaks what our graduates need when they get out.”

Carruth’s active roles in both facilities help intertwine the relationship between North Oaks and the university.

“The relationship between North Oaks Hospital system and Southeastern is very important for the benefit of the Tangipahoa Parish Community,” said Macaluso. “So, when she learns and experiences and contributes to the hospital, she is in fact contributing to Southeastern and the community at the same time.”

Carruth explained how she utilizes her working relationship to progress the needs of the students and the community.

“I have met many people through the board that give me feedback about the needs, ‘what should we be doing,’ ‘have we considered,’” said Carruth. “So really, it’s a way of getting feedback from the community about our programs and what we could do to be better. That has been invaluable, and so, that really has benefited our strategic plans, development of new degrees, revision and repositioning some of the areas that we go to clinical or we put interns or where we do practicum.”

Development of a new health systems management degree in fall 2017 was a direct link between the relationship of the board and her position as dean. A board training conference in California helped Carruth find out about a unique program in Pennsylvania that the university was able to put to use in academics. Carruth further explained her process of learning about the program in Pennsylvania and discussed how it could be implemented at the university.

“They used pre-med students from the time they were freshmen to the time they graduate,” said Carruth. “They worked closely with a care coordination office or a department at the hospital, and the students actually went out to the homes and then came back and reported to the health care team. They were kind of like the eyes and ears of the health care team because you know people will tell a student something that they won’t tell their doctor or nurse or nurse practitioner, and he was sharing the development of that program and the benefit that it had to the community. So, of course from that presentation and then conversation with board members and administration, we started looking at the development of degree programs here at Southeastern.”

The health systems management degree is tailored for students interested in mid-level supervision in health care systems. 

“They learn about how big data is being used to make decisions about patient care, and they learn about care coordination,” said Carruth. “The core is very broad in those three areas, and then they choose a concentration.”

This degree program has had 10 graduates so far, all who have left the university employed at the location or internship site they worked at in the community. Carruth explained it as “training a new kind of provider that is really interval to the whole team.”

Carruth’s journey made her understand that starting off as a nurse was helpful but showed that nursing is a narrow experience compared to being on the board. She explained how her current positions have been experiences that she will continue to learn from.

“Personally, it has been a professional growth experience,” said Carruth. “But what is probably of course more relevant and important is that as you learn about people and departments and services and the community, what happens is that you just start having a perception and an understanding and respect and just a real awareness of how our community comes together because North Oaks is a very integral part of this community and so is Southeastern. Every experience that I have in my position as the dean is influenced by the role of the board member and vice versa.”

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