Curry College today announced Michelle McMahon, Ph.D., R.N., CNE, as Dean of the School of Nursing, effective June 1, 2021. Dr. McMahon, a renowned nurse educator, scholar, and 13-year veteran of the College, will succeed Dean Desiree Hensel, who has led the School of Nursing since 2017.
“Dr. McMahon’s appointment reflects her leadership talents; passionate commitment to the Nursing profession; and vision for the future of the School,” says Dr. David Szczerbacki, executive vice president and provost. “With Dean McMahon’s leadership of our talented faculty and staff, I am confident that the best is yet to come for our School of Nursing. Dr. McMahon will build upon a proud 40-year legacy of excellence in nursing education including the substantial contributions of Dr. Desiree Hensel who is retiring after serving as the School’s first Dean.”
Since 2008, Dr. McMahon has been a leader in the School of Nursing as professor and director of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. She has spearheaded many new and successful endeavors for the School, including expanding nursing programs on the Plymouth campus, advancing MSN curriculum design and driving new faculty development initiatives. Dr. McMahon recently secured more than $100,000 in grant funding to launch the Nurse Faculty Loan Program at Curry, which awards loans to graduate students committed to becoming nurse educators in accredited U.S. nursing schools.
Dr. McMahon’s scholarly work includes concept and mid-range theory development, with a research focus on pedagogical strategies for clinical judgment development of nursing students and the effects of ambiguity within the nursing practice on nurse decision making. She has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented podium and poster presentations at local, regional, and national conferences. She is also an active member of the American Nurses Association National and State Chapter, Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, and the Eastern Nursing Research Society. Dr. McMahon is her local Sigma Chapter, Theta at-Large President.
“Curry’s School of Nursing has led in educating the region’s top nurses for more than 40 years, and I’m excited to continue that success as the next Dean,” she says. “This last year has certainly demonstrated how critical and valuable our nurses are in our communities, and the need for resourceful and talented healthcare providers will only continue. I’m incredibly proud to lead a nursing program that produces such knowledgeable and skilled nurses at every stage of their professional journey, from entry-level R.N.’s to seasoned clinicians that seek out Curry to expand their education and attain credentials to advance their careers.”
Year over year, Curry’s nursing graduates continue to maintain a high first-time pass rate on the NCLEX, the National Council of Licensure Examination, a standardized exam that nursing graduates take to receive their license to practice as a Registered Nurse. In 2020, Curry’s NCLEX pass rates remained at a strong 91% compared to a 90% pass rate in Massachusetts and 88% pass rate nationally.
Moreover, Curry’s senior nursing students were among the only in the state to work alongside nurses at Tufts Medical Center to support care for COVID-19 patients last spring. The College’s nursing students have recently led at local vaccination sites to help administer COVID-19 vaccines in local communities. Their ability to seamlessly transition from student to practicing nurse in today’s challenging and demanding clinical environment is a testament to the strength of Curry’s programs, which offer specialized courses, clinical placements, supportive faculty, and state-of-the-art technology and simulation labs. Alumni today work in some of the largest area hospitals, including Boston Children’s, Mass General, and Tufts Medical, among other leading institutions.
Dr. McMahon will take the helm at an opportune time for the School of Nursing. New construction is currently underway at the College’s Plymouth campus. The renovations will expand high-tech learning spaces for nursing students, including interactive classrooms, a state-of-the-art simulation and skills lab, and other learning spaces with advanced technology to support collaborative and hybrid teaching models. The School was also recently awarded a new grant to build a unique simulated participant program from the Davis Education Foundation that trains theatre students to act as patients in real-life clinical scenarios. Beginning in the fall, the new program will allow nursing students to practice critical communication, clinical judgment, and decision-making skills in a safe environment.
“I plan to continue our excellent momentum, and I look forward to building on it with new opportunities for not only our nursing students but expanding programs for our students that are interested in pursuing other career pathways in healthcare,” says Dr. McMahon.