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FPU hires nursing director

  • Dr. Paula McWilliam has been named the Director of Nursing at Franklin Pierce University.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/10/2018 12:38:39 PM

Dr. Paula McWilliam has been named the Director of Nursing at Franklin Pierce University after spending a year as the interim director.

McWilliam, who has also spent two years as an associate professor of nursing at the university, will now oversee faculty for students who seek to earn their undergraduate or graduate nursing degree at FPU.

“To have that one year transition has been great,” McWilliam said. “Having been here for two years prior, I already knew the culture. Maria Altobello (Dean for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies) made all the difference in the world. She’s really the reason I decided this would be a good match. Her mentorship to the directors that serve under her is invaluable.”

Prior to becoming a professor, McWilliam spent 10 years as a practicing neonatal nurse practitioner at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Prior to that, she worked as a physical education teacher and at a psychiatric hospital.

“I wanted to do more, I didn’t want to be as limited. I wanted to help people more,” McWilliam said. “Being a nurse, I can touch and help people in so many ways.”

McWilliam received her doctoral degree in higher education at Nov Southeastern University, a masters of science in nursing (perinatal-neonatal health) from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a bachelors of science in nursing from Barry University.

“Dr. Paula McWilliam has demonstrated a passion for education and research that permeates the rest of the faculty,” Altobello, said in a press release from the university. “She is a strong mentor to faculty and students, and her deep understanding the landscape of the nursing profession is essential to the design and development of nursing education programs. We are very fortunate to have someone of her caliber among our faculty.”

As a teacher, McWilliam specializes in nursing theory, leadership, assessing competence in nursing education, and the capstone experience.

Being the director of nursing will allow McWilliam to fuel the passion in the next generation of nurses, something desperately needed with the present nursing shortage.

The current program at FPU is completely online, McWilliam said, which presents both challenges and rewards for the students.

“I enjoy the online environment,” McWilliam said. “Online education for nursing isn’t super new, but to the level that it’s risen, you can get a good degree that employers will have confidence in. Some employers used to not take nurses with online degrees, but online programs are now able to provide good merit.”

The largest benefit to the online program, McWilliam said, is the ability to offer flexibility to adult learners. The challenge, however, is keeping students engaged in the program so they don’t fall behind.

Because of this McWilliam and her offer texting, online video chats, and conversations via email or the phone to answer any questions a student may have.

“Sometimes what you don’t think is an emergency could be a huge emergency for them,” McWilliam said. “We don’t want students to lose their stride or stamina. We want to keep them active.”

McWilliam also enjoys doing research in the medical field and inventing new medical devices. She recently made a laryngoscope, which she is using for neonatal intubation research – research she is able to conduct with a few of her students.

“I’m pretty excited about the level of research we are able to add to the program,” McWilliam said. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT. 

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