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  • Erica Patton

Dr. Norma Hall-Thoms Named the New Dean of the College of Nursing

By: Erica Patton


Taking the place of Interim Dean Judith Lewis, Dr. Norma Hall-Thoms has been named the new dean of the College of Nursing at UMSL. As she currently serves as the University of Indianapolis’ dean of their School of Nursing, Hall-Thoms is fully equipped to provide UMSL with her knowledge and leadership.


Hall-Thoms has been involved in higher education since 2006, teaching undergraduate nurses at Indiana University. She says that this is what sparked her interest in making teaching a full-time career. “What I liked about it is working with students. When you see the light bulb go on, especially in a clinical setting, it's just a special thing for faculty to see. You really know that you are making a difference in their ability to understand their didactic content when they're in a clinical setting.”


Photo by UMSL Daily


Q: Why UMSL and what made you pursue this position? What makes this switch beneficial for UMSL’s College of Nursing?


A: “One of the things I did as dean at UIndy was become the PI for a $3 million grant from PRSA. In that grant, we developed a primary and inventory care minor, which is an unusual thing to have a minor in nursing of any sort. We did such a great job with it that we won a national award for Innovative and Teaching Excellence. I really wanted to make sure that that type of program was not just centered with us, but at other schools as well. We went the extra mile publishing on that, but I want to be able to take that type of community interaction and train nurses to be more community-focused in other areas. I wanted to go to an area, or in this case, St. Louis, that was open to doing more community-based things,” says Hall-Thoms.


Q: You have been a dean at UIndy School of Nursing, what do you believe has helped you prepare for this role at UMSL?


A: “I’m a networker at heart. I had the opportunity as dean to really network all over the state of Indiana. I was able to make connections both clinically and academically through multiple organizations I belong to. So, in Indiana, we have the Indiana Center for Nursing, and I know that Missouri has a center for nursing as well, so that would definitely be one of the first connections I would make. Basically, the Center for Nursing in every state is designed to bring clinical leaders together with academic leaders so that A, academic leaders can stay abreast of what’s happening in the clinical sector, and help prepare students to be successful in their first clinical jobs, and B, it helps clinicians connect with academic leaders so that they have a pathway to developing their workforce.”


Q: What do you believe, as a leader, is your teaching philosophy?”


A: I am very people-centric…I want to make sure everything I do has the student in mind and makes sure that students are set up for success. In the same respect, I also think about what I do as an academic leader in nursing. Whenever I help coordinate things for faculty, I want to make their jobs easier so that they can make the process of teaching students more productive and efficient. Even though I am the most removed person from patient care, a lot of what I do is thinking about the patient in mind because I am leading an area that is producing the next generation of nurses. So, it's my job as a leader to make the faculty’s job as effective as possible so that students get the best education.”


Q: As a leader and as you make this transition, what are you most looking forward to? Are you nervous about the shift to a different environment?


A: “Well, of course, there's always a little bit of anxiety with taking on a new job. But, thankfully I have an understanding of what the job is having done. So, I’m not particularly concerned about jumping in and taking on the role of a leader in a new environment. I think really, what I would probably focus on most going in is making connections with faculty and students.  Having a real understanding of how the College of Nursing works at UMSL, I think is the best foundation I can make to make sure what I want to do as a leader is effective.”


With Hall-Thoms’ optimism and community-centered approach, UMSL’s College of Nursing is set to be led by an extraordinary leader. As Hall-Thoms is making her big move from the University of Indianapolis to UMSL with enthusiasm, students and faculty should be just as excited to greet her on her first day starting July 1. 


“I am really excited to be at UMSL, I really am. I think It reflects a lot of what is happening in healthcare as an academic institution. I am really looking forward to making my next career step at the College of Nursing at UMSL.”

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