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AAL Newsletter

Curing Absentmindedness

by N. Karl Haden, Ph.D., AAL President

Hardin.Karl_webThe nineteenth century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once made the following observation about his academic contemporaries: “Nowadays a thinker is a curious creature who during certain hours of the day exhibits a very remarkable ingenuity, but has otherwise nothing in common with a human being.”1 Kierkegaard was known for his mordant pen. His cynicism aside, maybe there is something for us to learn from his quip. As a test, and to make him more contemporary, we might substitute dean, department chair, teacher, researcher, or clinician for thinker. To make his observation personal, you might try substituting your name. This commentary says something important to a community whose currency is “ingenuity.”  Not that resourcefulness, originality, and innovation are unimportant, but we as individuals are deficient if our ingenuity (and the accomplishments that result from it) alone measures and defines us.  Something is missing. Failure to recognize that something (or things) is a type of absentmindedness.

We can grow so preoccupied by our work that we become like the absent-minded professor who fails to notice what is happening right before his or her eyes. We might even fail to notice ourselves—our purpose, relationships, health, and psychological and spiritual wellbeing. We are rewarded for our ingenuity, but all the while risk losing those other dimensions of our humanity that make for happy, meaningful, and balanced lives. New preoccupations take the place of the old and ambition excites more ambition. In his essay entitled On the Shortness of Life, the Roman Stoic Seneca comments on the preoccupied, “If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect on how small a portion is their own.”2 In a world in which we are personally accessible 24/7, what is one to do?

Of the various professional development programs run by AAL, my favorite sessions are those on life balance. I know, both anecdotally and through survey research AAL has conducted of faculty members and administrative leaders, life balance is a constant challenge. Our data indicate, not surprisingly, the challenge increases when people accept greater levels of leadership responsibility. In particular, the leader’s ability to control and manage his or her time becomes more difficult as others compete for it. Life balance is a favorite topic of mine not only because these AAL programs address an acute need, but also because each session is a new occasion for my self-examination. To return to Kierkegaard, I cannot express my ingenuity on the topic of life balance without being reminded of my own humanity, reminded of those aspects of life beyond the work I do during certain hours of the day. And therein lies the answer to absentmindedness: we need more reminders of who we are as individual human beings.

Reminders come in many shapes and forms. They may come as an existential crisis—a death, severe illness, or tragedy that strips us of preoccupations. Reminders can also come from propitious life-changing events such as falling in love, the birth of a child, or accomplishing a life goal. Too often these reminders are things that happen to us, not things that we control. To cure absentmindedness, the key is to have reminders that we do control. While there are many ways to build reminders into one’s life, I would like to propose one basic idea for your consideration as you embark on the new academic year.

We belong to the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens. We are the wise ones. We have a unique capacity for self-reflection—on our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and ultimately our purpose. A mantra that I often repeat to those with whom AAL works is, “No reflection, no learning.” I believe this mantra is good pedagogy. I also believe that it is a fundamental principle of the lifelong learning necessary for personal and professional growth. By reflection, I mean the learning that occurs by assessing our experiences, learning from them, and modifying our behaviors accordingly. But deeper than personal experiences, reflection is an occasion to consider one’s values, attitudes, emotions, motives, relationships, and perceptions associated with big questions about purpose and legacy. Those big questions make us human, yet those are the ones that are often absentmindedly overlooked in the busyness of living. Reflection takes time, and the rewards are not as obvious or quick as those that come through our work accomplishments.

If you have read to this point, you know that this article is really not about absentmindedness, but about mindfulness. With the new academic year in mind, I encourage you to schedule time for reflection. If you are beginning at zero, plan 15 minutes a day, 30 minutes on the weekend. Take a walk, empty your mind, and simply observe the world around you. Read a book—one that has endured the test of time—and meditate on it. Reflect on your thoughts through the pages of a journal. Articulate a personal mission statement in that journal. Take vacation days—all of them. Whatever works for you, cure absentmindedness through perspective-giving reminders.

With a new academic year, the hourglass of existence is turned upside down again. If we are to become more than a “curious creature who during certain hours of the day exhibit a very remarkable ingenuity,” we must take the time to remind ourselves of all aspects of our humanity. No reflection, no learning.


1Kierkegaard S. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. Trans. by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

2Seneca. On the Shortness of Life. Trans. by C.D.N. Costa. New York: Penguin Group, 2005.

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Expand and Enhance Your Career: Develop a Presence in Two Worlds

by Catherine Garner, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., RN, FAAN, and Val Gokenbach, D.M., RN, NEA-BC, AAL Senior Consultants

Catherine Garner-webVal Gokenbach for websiteAre you at the point in your career where you are asking yourself if it is time to embark on a new challenge? Even if you are wildly successful in your academic position, it is not uncommon to ask, “Is this all there is?” or at least, “What’s next?” This certainly is a time when the entire health care system is restructuring to create new models of care in order to balance the changing financial landscape. For example, insurance companies are moving into population management, with nurse case managers in high demand. Technology continues to expand into all corners, particularly home monitoring and tele-physician visits. Care for the aging provides new opportunities to become advocates for those with Alzheimer’s or physical decline, and people with end-of-life decisions to make.



There are many advantages to moving to private sector positions, or at least establishing a foothold there while maintaining your presence in academe. Monetary compensation is usually higher in private sector jobs, and there will be opportunities to build a vast network of new colleagues.


Here are several considerations to bear in mind when selecting the best position for you:


Begin with a detailed self-assessment. List your accomplishments and skills. Then, decide what you are passionate about versus what you could do, even if it does not necessarily motivate you. You always will perform better if you enjoy what you are doing. You may choose to select a position in your area of expertise, or you may wish to branch out and learn something completely new. Regardless, you always will be more satisfied if you are living your passion.


Identify your preferred work environment

Do you need an office or clinical setting with structure and continuous interaction? Would you prefer to work from home most of the time?  Do you need flexibility? Do you want to travel outside of your geographical area? Would you be willing to work for a start-up company? How much risk can you take financially? These are all questions you must answer for yourself in order to shape your transition from academe to the private sector.


Develop strategies to overcome challenges to entering the private sector

There are several challenges to entering the private sector from academe. It is true that as a professor you continually work to keep your content fresh and up-to-date. In industry, however, an executive who is looking for someone with operational experience might not think your knowledge is transferable to the “real world.” However, if you have even minimal private sector experience before you attempt to transition from the academic setting, it might be easier for you to convince a potential employer of your value. You could choose to accept a lower-level position to acquire the experience for advancement, or become involved in an internship program that provides you with exposure to the decision makers in an organization. Try to meet one-on-one with leaders in the health systems or your community to discuss your skills and what work they need done. Another way to overcome the “ivory tower” prejudice is to attend non-academic professional meetings and read extensively in your area of interest to learn how those outside of higher education frame problems and solutions. Adopt their vocabulary when discussing current issues that are hot topics in healthcare today. If you sound like the gatekeepers to private sector positions, your odds of acceptance will improve.

If you have clinical expertise, think about clinical arenas where you can help improve the practice, provide direct care and staff education/development, or provide new models of care. Consider becoming a part-time education advisor in hospitals or clinics for new graduates on the night and weekend shifts, where they are often assigned.


Consider positions that are educational in nature

There are many opportunities in academic-like positions. Most successful companies realize the importance of maintaining a well-educated and trained staff; they manage this through the human resources department or an educational department led by a Chief Learning Officer. There is also the need for leadership development and succession planning that requires a background in connecting with individuals in a learning environment.

If you enjoy research, you can investigate positions in quality assurance or risk management departments that deal with process change and data. Healthcare organizations have many opportunities for researchers in the medical fields. Furthermore, healthcare organizations affiliated with universities often have available adjunct positions co-sponsored by both entities.

Explore the opportunities to provide education to healthcare organizations. Speak with directors and clinical specialists about areas where you could develop a more rigorous, structured educational pathway for clinicians, managers, and others. Many organizations could benefit from a formal program in care management or clinical trials–areas where hospitals generally train their own employees on the job. Nutrition and pharmaceutical education often lack such a pathway, so updating programs may be welcomed.

Many hospitals are designated Magnet or are on the Magnet journey. This requires a commitment to leadership development, continuous quality improvement, and research and publication. Consider joining hospital quality improvement efforts to develop the research programs. Coach and co-author publications as a scholar-in-residence.

Those with fund development and grant writing experience are highly sought after in the not-for profit sector. Consider reaching out through Community Foundations to identify those organizations with a need. For instance, state and private funding agencies need grant reviewers and assessment experts. Private agencies often depend upon fundraising. Healthcare-related agencies need policy expertise.

Consulting is another avenue into the private sector with a huge variety of options, from leadership development and organizational analysis to compliance and cultural transition. An academic background is a strong advantage in many of these settings. You may even consider developing your consulting presence and opening your own business. Independent consulting can be enjoyable and rewarding, provided you are willing to market yourself, manage contracts and deliverables, and have financial flexibility. Talk to other consultants in your profession about the realities of solo or group consulting, as there are considerable decisions to be made and money invested before you launch yourself. Look around for entrepreneurship and small-business courses. Larger and mid-size cities often have innovation centers where you can connect and get advice.

You also may want to consider positions with professional associations, including accreditation assistance, editing and publication support, and/or working with state and public health agencies. Search out international opportunities, if that is your passion. Likewise, if you enjoy working in information technology, there are hundreds of healthcare technology positions.


Use your network

A network of diverse colleagues in a variety of settings is one of the best ways to identify potential positions. Professional organizations are invaluable in making such contacts. For instance, organizations such as Leadership America attract individuals interested in networking from all facets of industry and academe. Also, an active professional presence on LinkedIn is an effective way to reach out to a large audience and make connections.


Engage a professional services firm

Talent management companies exist to help you with services such as turning your CV into a modern resume or establishing a professional presence and locating open positions. Your resume usually provides employers with their first impression of you, so investing in a strong document is well worth the effort.


Follow your desires

It has always been our personal belief that each individual has much to offer to this world, and many ways to share his or her talents. If you are feeling that you need to stretch and challenge yourself in a different setting, believe in yourself and take the risk. Learning experiences are valuable to your own growth as well as the growth of those around you.

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Coaching: A Pathway to Career Development and Advancement

by Paula N. O’Neill, M.Ed., Ed.D., AAL Senior Consultant
ONeill.Paula_webWhen professional coaching is done well, it may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance. For the healthcare experts/faculty with whom coaches work, there is an acknowledgement that even faculty experts have room for improvement.  “No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own. That’s where coaching comes in.”1 Additionally, faculty increasingly are choosing coaching to help them take the next step in their careers, or sometimes to help determine what that next step should be.2


Professional coaching focuses on demands related to academic organizations and has its foundations in management theory, motivational psychology, and human performance. Institutions, companies and individuals become involved in coaching because there is either a need for behavioral change, a desire for enhancement of knowledge and skills, or an assumption that high-quality professional learning will provide opportunities for advancement. Other coaching needs may be focused on improving instructional practices and development of faculty resulting in increased student achievement.3 Coaching, through self-assessment and the practice of new behaviors, enables high-potential employees to eliminate barriers and advance into leadership positions by reflecting and adjusting personal styles and approaches to people and learning the rules and expectations of the new position.4

Coaching is not as common in health sciences academics. “The coaching model is different from the traditional conception of pedagogy, where there’s a presumption that, after a certain point, the student no longer needs instruction. You graduate. You’re done. You can go the rest of the way yourself.”1 Instead, a faculty expert may encounter a number of times or opportunities throughout his or her career when working with a coach would be beneficial, such as when looking to advance in a career, expand influence as a leader, or gain personal insight into becoming a better team player, stakeholder, or visionary in the field.

Researchers have found that teachers who participated in coaching scored significantly above average on the dimension of efficacy, were more self-directed, maximized their contributions to the workplace, and reported increases in job and career satisfaction. Administrators also reported that coaching refined their people skills, self-awareness, and understanding of personal strengths.6 ,7, 8, 9

Many tend to think that coaching is also mentoring; however, there are distinct differences between coaching and mentoring.  Burdett states that “Coaching is exclusively a process focusing on enhanced performance. Coaching should not be confused with counseling or mentoring. The former addresses the employee’s emotional state. The latter is a means whereby a seasoned colleague – at a more senior level – shares his/her experience with a view to ‘fast track’ the career growth of a high performance employee.  This form of coaching is typically accomplished through one-on-one interactions and utilizes specific strategies such as goal setting, feedback, and collaborative problem solving.”9


Defining Coaching

Coaching is generally a short-term process (3-24 months) between the coach and the individual (coachee). This process examines underlying patterns of behavior and perception and utilizes the insight gained for change in the coachee.10 The coach has to focus on assisting the coachee to acquire the requisite attitudes, behaviors, and skills necessary to effectively perform his or her job within the agreed upon objectives or success parameters.11


Coaching Foci

A coachee should be open to exploring many areas, some requiring intervention and others requiring development from a coach, such as the following:

  • Gaining confidential and objective feedback focused upon enabling self-awareness and reflection–Gawande suggests that this is getting outside eyes and ears to raise one’s awareness and sights1;
  • Challenging thinking and problem-solving focused upon moving strategically towards realistic and higher-level career goals;
  • Enhancing communication approaches and styles that lead to clear, effective, and timely communication;
  • Building management, leadership, and team-building skills;
  • Building skills discovered through a 360-degree appraisal;
  • Evaluating behavioral patterns that impact the individual’s decision making to align that process with that of the institution;
  • Adapting and working more efficiently/effectively within an organization that is changing;
  • Developing career paths and opportunities;
  • Transitioning from one part of a career to another;
  • Advancing into higher levels of leadership, either within the existing organization or a new one;
  • Enhancing capacity to manage or lead an organization including skill building in areas of visioning, strategic planning, organizing, team building, leading and developing others;
  • Enhancing skills in the areas of self-awareness, strengths, and
  • opportunities, and identifying deficiencies and behaviors that limit advancement;
  • Changes indicating there are needs for new or different skills for the organization or a new position.1, 2, 10, 12, 13


What Strategies Do Effective Coaches Use?

Good coaches are credible, make strong personal connections with their coachees, and don’t focus coaching sessions on themselves. Instead, they focus on the needs of those persons they are coaching. They quickly establish a coaching agenda and timeline focused upon the objectives of the coachee as well as any organization or institution involved. Objectives may be identified by the coachee, by an employer, or through a 360 degree evaluation of the individual. Gawande suggests that good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components, perhaps even demonstrating some of those components, noting different ways for personal reflection, exploration to learn or enhance skills and behaviors.1 Coaches listen more than they talk and coach by asking questions, pushing the coachee to think critically and reflect upon the questions and whether there are opportunities for growth.  The coach should be direct in dealing with the coachee, respectful, analytical, and personally observant, and should also be able to discuss his or her observations of the coachee in a constructive and proactive manner.

The coach must adhere to high standards of ethical conduct and honor the confidentiality and privacy of the person involved in the coaching experience. This issue is particularly important when dealing with a varied group of stakeholders such as the coachee, his or her supervisor, and the institution or company. Confidentiality may be addressed by developing a clear set of confidentiality guidelines relative to measuring coaching impact and behavioral changes of the individual involved at the beginning of the relationship to avoid problems during or at the end of the process.14

Expectations of Individuals Involved with a Coaching Experience

To benefit from a coaching experience, the coachee should be engaged in the process, respectful, responsible in competing tasks and assignments, open to the coaching experience, reflective, realistic about the potential outcomes of the coaching experience, and future oriented.

Professional coaching has positive research outcomes and is a development approach that is beneficial to the individual and the organization by aligning the individual with the organization and its mission. The growth, personal satisfaction, and advancement of an institution’s faculty and academic leaders are of prime importance for retention and advancement of the educational mission. For these reasons, individuals and institutions should carefully consider the benefits of coaching and invest resources in coaching to facilitate ongoing professional and institutional growth.


1 Gawande A. Personal Best: The coach in the operating room. The New Yorker: Annals of Medicine, Oct 3, 2011.

2 Albino JEN. Coaching for Faculty. AAL Newsletter, 2015.  http://www.aalgroup.org/newsletter/?p=848

3 Wenglinsky H. How teaching matters: Bringing the classroom back into the discussion of teacher quality. Princeton, NH: Policy Information Center, 2000.

4Kombarakaran FA, Yang JA, Baker MN, Fernades PB.  Executive Coaching: It Works! Consulting Psychology Journal.. American Psychological Association and the Society of Consulting Psychology, 60(1):78-90, 2008.

5Alseike BU. Cognitive Coaching: Its influence on teachers. Dissertations Abstracts International, 58(8),2911 (University Microfilms No. 9804083), 1997.

6Edwards JL & Newton RR. The effect of Cognitive Coaching on teaching efficacy and empowerment. Paper presented American Educational Research Association Meeting, San Francisco, April 1995.

7Edwards JL, Green KE, Lyons CA, Rogers MS, & Swords ME. The effects of Cognitive Coaching and nonverbal classroom management on teacher efficacy and perceptions of school culture. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, April 1998.

8 Slinger JL. Cognitive Coaching: Impact on student and influence on teachers. Dissertation  Abstracts International, 65(7),2567 (University Microfilms No. 1384304), 2004.

9Burdett J. Forty things every manager should know about coaching. J Management Development. 17(2/3):142-153, 1998.

10Pilette PC, & Wingard E. Strengthening the executive’s leadership skills through coaching. In J. E. Lowery (Ed.), Culture shift: A leader’s guide to managing change in health care. (pp. 187-205.) Chicago: American Hospital Association, 1997.

11Chakravarthy P. The difference between coaching and mentoring. Forbes BrandVoice. 12/20/2011. http://www.forbes.com/sites/infosys/2011/12/20/business-leadership-for-smarter-org-2/

12 Zues P, Skiffington S. The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work. NY: McGraw Hill, 2001.

13 Hall GE & Hord SM. Implementing Change: Patterns, Principles, and Potholes. Boston: Ally & Bacon, 2005.

14 Lang DG. Influencing the effectiveness of executive coaching. J of Executive Educ: 9(1): article 9, 2010.  http://digital commons.kennesaw.edu/jee/vol9/iss1/9

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AAL in the News

Val Gokenbach for websiteAAL Senior Consultant Val Gokenbach is a contributing author to the seventh edition of Management and Leadership for Nurse Administrators from Jones & Bartlett Learning Company. Dr. Gokenbach wrote Chapter 9, “Managing Human Capital.”

Rodriguez.Tobias_webAAL Master’s participant Karl Woodmansey, Dean of the University of the Pacific Benerd School of Education Lynn Beck, and AAL Vice President Tobias Rodriguez collaborated on The Landscape of Predoctoral Endodontic Education in the United States and Canada: Results of a Survey, published in the Journal of Dental Education, Issue 79, 2015, p. 922-927.

Polly BednashAt AAL’s July 30-August 1, 2015 Chairs and Academic Administrators Management Program, Dr. Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, former executive director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, gave the keynote address. Click here to read the transcript.

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Bombard the School Year—or the School Year Will Bombard You!

by Gerald Davis II, D.D.S., M.A., Director of Academic and Student Affairs and Instructor Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry

Gerald Davis“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.” Sun Tzu: Art of War

As a junior faculty member, I’ve made tons of mistakes. From over-extending myself to poor time management, there have been times when I was barely able to stay afloat in spite of the fact that most of what I’d planned had been designed to produce simpler, yet more effective processes for others.  Ultimately, in the midst of my own chaotic creativity, I had an epiphany:  The best way to manage all that had been entrusted to my hands was to observe how my forefathers and -mothers, (in this instance, seasoned faculty) manage their responsibilities. Even in light of this eye-opening moment, I had to do more than observe–I had to call myself to action and begin contributing the tactics, skills, and abilities that work to my own arsenal. The following are lessons I have gleaned from observing mentors, colleagues, and friends, to overcome desultory tendencies.


Identify the Challenges in Advance (aka, Worst-case Scenario)

By simply thinking ahead, many situations that could produce challenges can be averted. To paraphrase Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can happen (or go wrong) will happen (or go wrong).” Make a list, mental or physical, of any scenario that could pose a threat to your plans, and then form the solution. Dot every “I” and cross every “T”. Even if none of the scenarios you devise ever manifest, at least you will have been prepared. If you are going to err, it may as well be on the side of caution.


Be True to Yourself by Recognizing Your Limitations

Recognizing your limitations is not an admission of futility; rather, it is an admission of your humanity. Being the comic book lover that I am, I had to be true to myself and acknowledge that I don’t rule and reign over Metropolis like Superman. I am a human with faults, flaws, and limitations. I know a lot of things; however, there is even more that I do NOT know. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to know that I can always capitalize on an opportunity to learn.


Ask for Help by Recruiting Qualified People

Each of us has a unique gift that can be used in service to others. If you are faced with a task that is outside your area of expertise, connect with someone who can help make you shine; then, offer your gift or knowledge in return. We all have something to bring to the table, though often, the greatest challenge is getting everyone to come to the table! Once you get them there, however, you will soon discover a wealth of knowledge.


Identify the Needs and Expectations of Those around You

When there are monumental tasks to accomplish, identifying needs and expectations does not necessarily require great discernment. Usually, these needs can easily be identified by simply asking, “What can I do to help?” This is key question shows each individual that you are there for the team. The greatest accomplishments can only be achieved when everyone works together.


Create a Wish List

Take the time to list your expectations. However, you must be willing to revisit that list and adjust as the year moves on. Your list will require some minor and major tweaking as you determine what can and cannot work given each unique circumstance. As the second habit of author Stephen Covey’s acclaimed book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, states, you should begin with the end in mind. A wish list helps you set a clear vision for where you want to be. Think about your desired outcomes and then begin to move forward, working toward them.


In the health professions, the school setting can be extremely hectic. Our schedules, clinic expectations, and curricula are robust and dense, and much like cyclists at the Tour de France, one collapse can lead to hundreds of collapses. Faculty disagreements and petty disputes can cause everyone to suffer, but most gravely the students. Your unwillingness to change, forgive, or reconsider can cause a much bigger problem later in the school year. For these reasons, it is imperative that we remain consistently teachable and team-oriented. It takes everyone, junior and senior faculty alike, to ensure that we provide a cohesive and encouraging environment conducive to achieving the very best outcomes.

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AAL Alumni Profiles

An occasional column profiling our high-achieving program alumni, in their own words:

Rick HarrellRicky Harrell, D.M.D, M.A.

Program Director, Postgraduate Orthodontic Residency Program, Medical University of South Carolina, College of Dental Medicine

AAL programs attended: 

Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL), 2009
Chairs and Academic Administrators Management Program (CAAMP), 2010
Certificate in Dental Education, 2013
Master of Arts (MA) in Dental Education, 2013 (completed May 2014)

How the AAL programs have impacted my career:  AAL has really helped me in advancing in my teaching career, both in terms of what I have learned in the classroom as well as though the network of contacts I have developed as a result of my attendance in the various courses. The first major benefit I feel I received was learning how to navigate the university system for promotion, in my case from Associate Professor to Professor in five years. Without first learning about how universities work in this regard, the idea of promotion probably would not have been a priority for me.

ITL provided the knowledge and stimulus to pursue this promotion.  CAAMP gave me insight into how to navigate the system of budgets, rules and regulations, and how to manage student issues that arise during a residency program. It also opened a network to me of individuals in similar situations that proved to be beneficial as my duties and responsibilities increased.  Finally, the MA program greatly assisted me in learning the mechanics of both teaching and learning from a purely educational standpoint, prepared me to advance in the administrative/academic world, and broadened my perspective on the world of dental education.

My philosophy of teaching: Teaching is a relationship of a two-way trust. One direction of that trust is from student to teacher, trusting that the teacher is presenting current, evidence-based, and relevant material in a manner that suits the learning style of the audience as best as is possible. The other direction of that trust relationship is that the students come to class, eager to learn, with open minds, well prepared, and ready to discuss ideas presented by the instructor.

My philosophy of leadership: Lead by example. Never let any of those under your supervision ever doubt that you have first and foremost the success of the organization, whether it be large or small, as your top priority.


Sheri NovielloSheri Noviello, Ph.D., RN

Interim Dean, Valdosta State University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

AAL programs attended:

Chairs and Academic Administrators Management Program (CAAMP), 2014
CAAMP II – 2015

How the AAL programs have impacted my career: The CAAMP and CAAMP II programs were very informative. I valued the opportunity to engage with individuals across a variety of disciplines during group activities and networking. The presenters of each session are experts in their respective topics and create an environment for conversations between presenter and participant rather than a monologue. The topics of both programs were very timely and useful in my administrative role. I have applied many of the concepts from the programs to my day-to-day and strategic initiatives which have strengthened my ability to be an effective leader.

My philosophy of leadership: A leader is much more than an individual who holds a position of authority. A leader is one who inspires others to accomplish goals through creating a culture of excellence, professionalism, and collaboration. The effectiveness of a leader is measured by more than just a check-list of attributes or a list of accomplishments. The impact of one’s leadership on their followers is a crucial factor in defining leader effectiveness. Leadership that focuses on individuals’ strengths will result in higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.


Karl WoodmanseyKarl Woodmansey, D.D.S.

Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Endodontics, Saint Louis University, Center for Advanced Dental Education

AAL programs you attended:

Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL), 2012
Certificate in Dental Education, 2014
Master of Arts (MA) in Dental Education, to be completed May 2016

How the AAL programs have impacted my career: Despite many years of dental practice experience, as a novice dental educator, I was unprepared for the challenges of contemporary dental education. Attending the AAL’s ITL was a quick and thorough “just-in-time training” indoctrination of the essentials for success in dental academics. Moreover, the networking contacts that I made there endure today. In seeking to further my understanding of dental education, I completed the Certificate in Dental Education program and have also completed the requirements for the M.A. in Dental Education program, both of which are co-sponsored by the AAL. With this training, I have risen from a general purpose endodontic faculty member to an Endodontic Program Director. I have published two articles related to dental education research and have presented several dental education research abstracts. The AAL provided the knowledge, confidence and credentials to excel as a dental educator.

My philosophy of teaching: Now, with four years of dental education experience, I have adopted a teaching and leadership style that can be directly attributable to T.E. Lawrence. Lawrence (of Arabia) said of his experience leading the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turkish Empire: “Don’t try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them.”1 I can only guide their learning. I also affirm the quote of Mao Tse-Tung, “Failure is the mother of success,”2 wherein students learn more from their mistakes than they learn from perfection. After spending two weeks teaching in the Muhimbili School of Dentistry in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, I now believe that dental education principles are universal and can be distilled to the critical fundamental art of communication.


1T. E. Lawrence, “Twenty-Seven Articles,” Arab Bulletin (Cairo) 60 (20 August 1917): 348, in, Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T. E. Lawrence. New York: Atheneum, 1989, p. 960.

2Mao Tse-Tung, “On Practice,” Selected Works. Vol I. Peking, 1937, p. 296-7.

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Additional Knowledge to Share

Noteworthy Teaching and Learning Articles:

Classroom Freedom versus Control

How a Course Map Puts You on Track for Better Learning Outcomes

Do We Know How to Judge Teaching?

Learning to Analyze and Critically Evaluate Ideas, Arguments, and Points of View



Report: Nursing 2nd Most Popular Online Undergraduate and Graduate Major in 2015 Survey
Nursing is the only health profession in a Top 10 survey of online majors and the 2nd most popular major overall, according to a recent report from Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House. While 20% or more of those surveyed were enrolled in online business administration majors, nursing claimed the #2 spot for both undergraduate and graduate online majors with more than 5% in both categories.


Click the image below to enlarge it:

Infographic - Online Fields of Study


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Dr. Tandra Atkins

NYU Lutheran Medical Center

"The AAL team has enhanced my knowledge and decision making tools, objective analysis, and creativity in a radically changing health care environment."