New assistant dean of UNMC College of Nursing in Scottsbluff stepping into role next week
Kelly Betts has been named assistant dean for the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing West Nebraska Division in Scottsbluff, effective Aug. 13. She will succeed Susan Wilhelm, who has served as assistant dean since 2005. Wilhelm will continue teaching as an assistant professor.
For nearly the past 10 years, Betts has served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing. From 2010-12, she served as simulation lab coordinator, then as associate dean for undergraduate education from 2012-16. She served as interim associate dean for undergraduate education before stepping out of that role to pursue a post-master’s certificate as a pediatric nurse practitioner, which she completed in May.
“Dr. Betts is so very enthusiastic about coming to Scottsbluff and was enormously impressed by the students, faculty and staff whom she met during her interviews,” said Juliann Sebastian, dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. “She shared with me that she loves the spirit of innovation and excellence that is evident in west Nebraska, and she and her family are eager to join a lovely community in such a pretty part of the state.
“Kelly has the wonderful advantage of building on the amazing work Dr. Susan Wilhelm has done during her 13-year tenure as assistant dean of the West Nebraska Division. My sincerest thanks to Dr. Wilhelm for her leadership and all she has done and will continue to do as a faculty member helping us achieve the college’s mission and vision.”
At UAMS College of Nursing, Betts taught undergraduate and graduate nursing courses, was associate dean of baccalaureate education, and a faculty member in the department of practice. Her primary teaching focus is nursing education, online education and nursing theory.
She has experience collaborating on interprofessional grant proposals, including one on oral health initiatives. She has been part of a number of special projects related to interprofessional education at UAMS and has been active in using technology to foster interprofessional education.
“I am very excited about joining UNMC,” Betts said. “I have been so impressed by the advanced technology the campus provides the students such as high-fidelity simulation, the iWall and 3-D interactive pathophysiology instruction. It provides students with a safe environment for learning how to critically think and make good and safe patient care decisions.
“Active learning also provides a community of learning by using interactive tools that will enhance the ability to foster and transform learning in both theoretical and clinical situations. I also am very impressed by the faculty’s knowledge and application of the technology used in the classroom, and hope to encourage them to promote their talent and evidenced-based teaching outcomes through nursing education and scholarship.”
She also is interested in interprofessional education, which promotes teamwork across health care disciplines.
“I believe it’s very important for students to learn and work with students from other disciplines. Research has shown that IPE provides better patient outcomes, as well as promotes continuity of care between health care providers and patients,” Betts said.
Before joining the UAMS faculty, Betts had a long history of clinical and industry experience, focusing on pediatrics and endocrine and metabolic issues. She has received awards in academics and in her industry roles, including a UAMS Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010, and industry awards from Eli Lilly (2006) and Novofactor-Accredo (2001).