Susan Weeks

Making a Meaningful Difference in Health Sciences Education

Dean of Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences

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Early on, Susan Weeks thought she’d spend her career as a bedside nurse. Today, she finds herself preparing, inspiring and leading health care providers whose future careers will take them across the globe.

”My parents told me that I told them at the age of two that I was going to be a nurse,” she says. ”I pretty much always knew that is the direction I wanted to go in. I didn’t know it would be nursing education. I thought I’d be a bedside nurse and had worked for many years in emergency departments and saw that as my career path. But I discovered, through other elements of nursing leadership and education, I could make a meaningful difference in other ways as well.”

One of those ways is the Health Innovations Institute at TCU. Under her leadership, the institute brings together some of the college’s most ambitious centers – the Center for Translational Research, the Center for Collaborative Practice, the Center for Oncology Education & Research and the Let’s Inspire Innovation ‘N Kids (LiiNK) Center – in an effort to expand and evolve health care relationships among hospital and clinical partners.

Her impact as Dean of Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences is another. Weeks says their use of top-notch technology and realistic simulations set TCU grads apart in the workforce because it prepares them for what they will actually see.

“We know that healthcare simulation is incredibly important to prepare and educate safe providers, so we are looking for things as lifelike and as real as possible,” she says. ”The first time that a student is in a cardiac arrest, it can be very anxiety-provoking. And if they’ve had that situation as close to real as possible through simulation, they’re much more likely to feel comfortable and confident, and to demonstrate the competencies needed in that setting.”

The thing that makes TCU’s program stand out, however, is the impact the students are making in the community—at both a local and global level.

”We have a number of study abroad courses that we offer through Harris College, and we also have international internships for our students at the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses, because they recognize that our graduates are well-prepared to be leaders,” says Weeks. ”And it doesn’t just happen because of the reputation of TCU—it’s the way they live out the mission that we’ve educated them to fulfill.”

Weeks, who has been a member of the nursing faculty since 1994, hopes the students who matriculate through Harris College will have not only the skills they need to succeed, but the heart.

”I think they will carry with them the knowledge, skills and abilities they’ve learned here, but I hope much more that they will be prepared to actively contribute to their community, that they understand the global context and are making global contributions and that they understand leadership and that leadership is not just about a position that you hold, but that it’s about the way that you contribute to the organization and to those around you.”