School of Nursing Dean Vincent Guilamo-Ramos to step down, direct new DC policy institute

<p>&nbsp;Courtesy of Scholars @ Duke.&nbsp;</p>

 Courtesy of Scholars @ Duke. 

After more than two years, Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, dean of the School of Nursing, is stepping down from his position effective Oct. 1.

Guilamo-Ramos made history as both the first Hispanic dean and first male dean of the School of Nursing. He is set to assume a new role in January as director of the Institute for Policy Solutions at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, a new health policy institute based in Washington, D.C.

Michael Relf, associate dean for global and community health initiatives, was named interim dean and will oversee the nursing school while Duke searches for an official dean.

“It was such a hard decision to leave because I’m an alumnus of the school and I love nursing and I love the School of Nursing at Duke,” Guilamo-Ramos said. “My reason for really thinking about this next step and ultimately accepting is because the institute has a broader set of missions … around solutions to health policy.”

He cited the opportunity to inform “decision makers” given the institute’s proximity to the nation’s capital as a “dream come true,” and said that he hopes to expand on his goals for a nurse-centered initiative at the new institute. 

“[Guilamo-Ramos] has the opportunity now to be on a larger stage,” said Ernest Grant, interim vice dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the nursing school. “What he’s moving toward is going to have an even greater impact … not only across the country, but indeed probably globally.” 

Grant, the former president of the American Nurses Association, witnessed Guilamo-Ramos’ professional career at the nursing school from the beginning.

“I’ve been in nursing for 43 years now, and to have an amazing thought leader such as Dean Ramos come through and put forth a model that is really catching on — it’s just an amazing event,” he said.

Guilamo-Ramos started his role as dean of the School of Nursing in July 2021 following the departure of former dean Marion Broome. He has also served as vice chancellor for nursing affairs and was named Bessie Baker distinguished professor and is a graduate of the school’s nurse practitioner program.

In the two years since his appointment, Guilamo-Ramos has instilled major changes in the School of Nursing. In 2021, he founded the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at Duke to “reduce health inequities and promote overall wellbeing” among Latine youth and their families through nurse-centered care. 

Last year, he pioneered efforts to raise awareness about “social determinants of health” through a cluster-hire initiative that added faculty to research and combat health inequities. 

Guilamo-Ramos was also a driving force in reinventing the school’s mission and values. The School of Nursing's new mission works to “advance health equity and social justice” and focuses heavily on a nursing-based model of care as a means to achieve that.

Sharron Docherty, associate professor in pediatrics and vice dean for research, lauded the “theoretical perspective” that Guilamo-Ramos brought to nursing research to help solve the challenges that face healthcare.

“He’s been the real champion for talking about the impact that these system-wide inequities have on the health of the nation,” she said. “He’s really also elevated nursing in the eyes of others, [such] that we’re now starting to be recognized as a school that is focused on health inequity.”

Guilamo-Ramos’ decision to pursue a more social-based approach to nursing stems from his background in social work, long before his career as a nurse, he said. 

However, he soon realized that many of the issues he was addressing overlapped with healthcare, and decided to pursue a career in nursing in order to do more. 

“Prior to being a nurse, I could advocate for more prevention dollars or I could use some social and behavioral programs in the community,” he said. “But I couldn’t treat, I couldn’t diagnose, I couldn’t figure out a way to set up a mobile clinic and actually screen young people.”

Now, Guilamo-Ramos dedicates his career to connecting the fields of social work and nursing to each other. Leaving Duke, Guilamo-Ramos imparted some advice for nursing students at the school.

“I want them to know that they’ve chosen an amazing profession. And it is critical that they see themselves as leaders and as the solution to the challenges that we face as a nation,” he said. “Nurse-led models of care — that is really the wave of the future.”


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