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Director's Message

Looking Back at My First Year

September 20, 2021

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since I started my tenure as NINR Director. This year has been like none other, as the COVID-19 pandemic--with its tremendous toll and suffering--has continued to be part of our reality. Despite its challenges, our work at NINR hasn’t stopped and has even assumed a greater urgency to help solve our nation’s most pressing health challenges.

During this first year, I was busy getting to know my NINR and NIH colleagues, as well as many of you in the nursing science community, and building collaborations. I’ve had the great honor to speak to many groups about my background and the future of NINR research and training across the country. Last month, I also participated in my first live Twitter chat, engaging with nursing researchers across the country to discuss our role in addressing barriers to health equity.

It was also this year that NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced the UNITE Initiative to identify and address structural racism within the NIH-supported and the greater scientific community. At NINR, we fully support this effort, and I am proud to represent our institute on the UNITE committee and to co-chair a new trans-NIH health disparities program. Read more of my thoughts on structural inequities and health.

Another major effort this year has been developing NINR’s next strategic plan. As I have previously shared, my vision for NINR is to use nursing's holistic perspective to improve individual and population health and advance health equity through practice- and policy-relevant research that addresses the realities of people’s lives and living conditions. Developed with input from NINR staff, NIH colleagues, and external stakeholder groups, our new strategic plan will build on NINR’s past accomplishments and present a bold, new research agenda to advance nursing science. We look forward to unveiling the new plan in the first half of 2022.

It has been quite a year! I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to help me acclimate to my new role and support us here at NINR. I truly look forward to continuing our work together – and to making our vision for the field of nursing science a reality in the years to come.

Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
Director, NINR

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