For Rebecca Benfield, the School of Nursing’s new associate dean for academic affairs, working at UNLV offers professional growth opportunities that apply to multiple facets of her career: a committed focus to research and a Top Tier agenda, educational program development, collaborative possibilities between a new School of Medicine and the Health Sciences schools, and working with a dean she respects.
There were many factors that prompted my decision to join UNLV. The university is actively pursuing a Top Tier research agenda, and has a large collaborative National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant dedicated to research infrastructure. I am excited about the new Medical School and the numerous collaborative possibilities with the Division of Health Sciences. The School of Nursing has a strong reputation, and I wanted to work with Dean Carolyn Yucha. UNLV provides the perfect opportunity to grow my research, practice, teaching, and administrative career in a variety of ways.
Also, my husband and I love the southwest climate and the beautiful views around Las Vegas.
What’s the biggest misconception about your discipline?
The biggest misconception about my discipline is that all nurses hold a single degree and care for patients at the beside, in a hospital setting. While this role and setting are critically important, today’s nurses have multiple degrees — including practice and research doctoral degrees, and many are research scientists. Nurses have advanced specialty training as nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists. They receive research grants from NIH and other federal institutions, and are involved in developing and implementing health care policy, locally and at the federal level.
What is the biggest challenge in your field?
Our biggest challenge is the lack of nursing faculty — in particular those with strong programs of research. The pool of faculty across the county is miniscule in comparison to the number of faculty positions that are available.
What inspired you to get into your field?
I chose to become a nurse because of the huge career advancement potential. You enter the profession as a generalist and then have opportunities to choose a specific content area and advance your education. Once you become a nurse, career options are plentiful.
Who is your hero and why?
While I don’t have a hero, I think people demonstrate heroism by doing good in small ways each day. Showing genuine kindness, for example, is heroic to me.
What are your tips for success?
Pray for grace every day, communicate well and often, be a person of integrity even when it is difficult, and persevere, persevere, persevere.
What reputation do you want as a professor?
I want to be known as a faculty who has high expectations and big dreams, and is eager to roll up my sleeves and help others.
What are your hobbies or pastimes?
I enjoy riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle around Red Rock, and have been learning how to translate my gardening skills to Las Vegas' desert climate.