Dean Angela Amar, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is a professor, active researcher, and administrator for the UNLV School of Nursing. This nursing leader is a national expert on mental health nursing, sexual and dating violence, diversity in nursing leadership, and forensic nursing. Her research has earned funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Nursing Research. 

Dean Amar is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as we celebrate Black History Month with the Black Nursing Leaders Series 2023.

In February, we’ll highlight healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Dean Amar, Dean and Professor at the UNLV School of Nursing

Talk about your career path and how you ascended to your role at the UNLV School of Nursing.

My Dad was very sick and hospitalized a lot when I was in high school. I admired the nurses who took care of him. I’d always liked science and wanted a career where I’d connect with people. Nursing was the perfect choice for me.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

My Dad was very sick and hospitalized a lot when I was in high school. I really admired the nurses who took care of him. I’d always liked science and wanted a career where I’d connect with people. Nursing was the perfect choice for me.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?

Nursing and healthcare are in a period of great transition. The nursing leader of today has to be able to respond to the multiple issues confronting the field. Leaders need to make employees feel valued, heard, and respected. Nursing leaders must respond to challenges with flexibility and the ability to change course as needed. Finally, they must be able to communicate a vision, work with others to plot a course, and inspire others.

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Reflecting on Black History Month and Nursing

What does it mean to you to be a nursing leader, and how are you making a difference?

As a leader, I use my voice to help others. My various professional roles have expanded my reach, so I sit at many tables, often as the only nurse or Black woman. In these forums, I speak out on issues and bring the voices of those I represent. Also, I mentor a lot of nurses across the country. I use my experiences to help others and learn from my mentees.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

In the aftermath of the pandemic, nursing is in trouble. Our nurses are feeling burnout and fatigue. They’re not feeling valued and heard. We are headed for a shortage. Academic nursing is seeing retirements in leadership and senior faculty which makes for gaps in increasing enrollment. Further, COVID-19 exposed health inequities and racial injustice in our society and healthcare.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

As Dean of the UNLV School of Nursing, one of the most diverse universities in the country, we work to prepare students as expert clinicians, scholars, and leaders who are prepared to address the challenges facing the profession. Our school of nursing also works with local nursing leaders to address the problems facing our region. I also work through my leadership in national organizations to make meaningful changes for the nation.

What nursing leader inspires you the most?

Just one! That’s hard. In my career, I’ve benefited from multiple mentors. I learn so much and am inspired by so many nursing leaders. Dr. Carolyn Mosely has been my mentor since I was an undergraduate student. She pushes me and many others to be our best. She has led in multiple capacities in universities, nursing and professional organizations, and communities.

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Thank a Nurse with RNspire

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Keep doing the work you’re doing to change the system. We see you. You bring a new and fresh perspective and approach that is so needed in our healthcare system. Change is hard. It gets messy, but the end is worth it. So keep working and keep fighting for change. And keep bringing new insights and perspectives. The profession needs you.

Renee Hewitt
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