Martha Hill, a Johns Hopkins faculty member for 22 years and a national leader in the health community, has been appointed dean of the School of Nursing, effective July 1.
Hill, who has served as the school's interim dean since July 1, 2001, was selected by a committee after a national search. The university's board of trustees approved her appointment on Sunday.
President William R. Brody said that Hill was the clear choice to steer the future course of a division committed to excellence and growth.
"Martha is a national leader and is universally recognized in the field of nursing," Brody said. "She was enthusiastically recommended by the search committee. We are confident she will move the School of Nursing to the very forefront of the field."
Hill earned her R.N. diploma, bachelor's degree and doctorate at Johns Hopkins and has been a member of the university faculty since 1980. She was one of the first four faculty members hired by Dean Carol Gray when the School of Nursing was established as an independent division of the university in 1983. Previously, nursing education at Hopkins had occurred within another university division or in a hospital-based school.
Currently, Hill holds faculty appointments in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, where she had been director of the Center for Nursing Research. She was named interim dean of Nursing a year ago, when Sue Donaldson stepped down after seven years to return to teaching and research.
"As a citizen of the university, Martha Hill is unparalleled," President Brody said. "She is committed to collaborations across the institutions and with the community."
Notably, Brody said, Hill "was instrumental in the work of the Committee for the 21st Century, and she played a significant leadership role in the Urban Health Council, which led to the formation of our new Urban Health Institute."
Hill said the appointment is a "very great honor" and she looks forward to raising the school's profile both nationally and internationally.
"The school is beautifully poised to continue its maturation as a nationally ranked institution preparing nursing leaders," Hill said. "Our challenge is to maintain the academic and research excellence while we expand the school's visibility and scope."
Specifically, Hill's vision for the School of Nursing includes continuing to attract students of the highest quality; expanding the number of faculty who are outstanding in their scholarship, teaching and clinical practice; building multidisciplinary internal and external partnerships for excellence in nursing; achieving and sustaining a solid financial base; and increasing the visibility of Hopkins nursing through enhanced partnerships with the Johns Hopkins Hospital, School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health and JHPIEGO.
"I envision that partnerships with the hospital and School of Medicine will create an identity for 'Hopkins Nursing.' The idea is to increase awareness and recognition of the importance of professional nursing and its contribution to health care," Hill said. "As for our partnering with the School of Public Health and JHPIEGO, the goal there is to make public health nursing at Hopkins No. 1 in the world again, like it was in the '30s, '40s and '50s, when public health nursing here was world-renowned."
Hill said she anticipates that the school will become increasingly involved with its work in underserved communities, including its home in East Baltimore.
According to Hill, the major challenge facing nursing schools today is producing graduates who are prepared to practice in what has become "a very complicated health care environment." In order for the school to fulfill its potential, she says, it has to meet this challenge.
"We need to find new ways that nursing can positively participate in improving multidisciplinary team approaches to improving patient care and outcomes," she said.
Hill's career has, in many ways, paralleled the transition of nursing education at Hopkins, from its origin as a hospital-based program to its current base in an independent university division. She earned her diploma from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing in 1964, and a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1966 from what was then the School of Continuing Studies. She returned to the School of Continuing Studies (now Professional Studies in Business and Education) as a faculty member in 1980; when the School of Nursing was created, she joined its faculty. She received a master's in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977 and a doctorate in behavioral sciences in 1986 from what is now the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Hill is internationally known for her work developing and testing strategies to improve hypertension care and control among urban, underserved African-Americans, particularly young men. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, where she was co-vice chair of a committee that recently developed recommendations in a report titled "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Health Care." In 1997-98, she was the first nonphysician to serve as president of the American Heart Association.
She serves on numerous review panels, editorial boards and advisory committees, including the board of directors of Research!America and the executive council of the American Society of Hypertension. Recently, Hill was asked to serve on the upcoming National Research Council study committee on the organizational structure of the National Institutes of Health. The group was charged with completing the study in one year following the appointment of a new NIH director. The nomination to that post of Elias Zerhouni, executive vice dean of the School of Medicine, was confirmed by the Senate May 2.
For Hill, the opportunity to lead a school that has become her home is "an exciting, if somewhat daunting, challenge." The only drawback, she adds, is the reduced amount of time she has for her beloved research and teaching work.
"I enjoyed everything about being a full-time faculty member at Hopkins. I have wonderful colleagues among the faculty, staff and students here," Hill said. "I greatly miss that interaction, and I will work hard to balance some ongoing involvement in research and teaching with my new responsibilities."