(Los Angeles – September 24, 2012) Linda Sarna, a nurse researcher and professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, is the new chair of the UCLA Academic Senate for 2012-13. She is the 68th Senate chair and the first nurse to hold that position.
Sarna knows this is a challenging time to be a leader, but she's ready. "This is when you want to step up – when times are tough." She feels she is well prepared for this role. "Being a nurse is great preparation because we deal with a wide range of personalities in difficult situations."
There are so many important issues that faculty will be discussing –new ways to teach utilizing online and blended methods and best ways to support academic excellence through entrepreneurial opportunities. "We have a real chance to collectively solve problems and continue the tradition of UCLA as one of the top public universities in the world."
"During the 1990s, when budget cuts severely impacted the School of Nursing, it was a turning point for our faculty and me personally. We weathered the storm, developed innovative programs, and grew our research enterprise. We are stronger and more successful because of those actions."
Sarna is the principal investigator for the Tobacco Free Nurses Initiative, a project that helps nurses stop smoking and helps them, in turn, teach their patients how to quit too. "Because there are nearly three million nurses in the United States, they are an extraordinary human resource and can provide support, education and counseling – all the things necessary to help patients stop smoking. In 2009, Sarna was co-editor of the Annual Review of Nursing Research, which focused exclusively on tobacco control. It is one of her proudest achievements as she feels that while tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, it still has not received the attention it deserves from many scientists, including nurse scientists.
Sarna has now expanded her focus on how nurses can help patients give up their tobacco dependence in China, the Czech Republic and Poland.
She's not ignoring tobacco use in her own backyard however — Sarna is chair of the steering committee of the UCLA Tobacco-Free Policy committee, a campus-wide task force developing strategies for implementing a ban on smoking and tobacco use on the entire campus by 2014. "Last year the health science campus went smoke-free to great success, so we are hoping for a smooth transition when the entire campus goes tobacco-free."
For more information about the UCLA School of Nursing, visit nursing.ucla.edu.