School of Nursing appoints Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

The School of Nursing recently created a new leadership position, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education. Kathryn R. Puskar, DrPH, RN, FAAN, has been appointed to this position and as such, will be responsible for maintaining and advancing the quality of the baccalaureate program as well as providing oversight of BSN program accreditation and evaluation. With more than 620 students, the undergraduate program accounts for more than half of the School’s enrollment. “I’m very excited about this opportunity to continue innovating and enhancing the undergraduate experience here at Pitt’s School of Nursing,” states Dr. Puskar. “Since our founding in 1939, the School of Nursing has offered a Bachelor’s Degree. I look forward to guiding future development of the undergraduate program to reflect the skills, the knowledge, and the attitudes called for in 21st-century nursing and healthcare.” .

The School of Nursing offers three baccalaureate tracks: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the Accelerated 2nd Degree (BSN), and the RN-to-MSN or DNP program. As the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Puskar will bring to bear 30 years of experience as a faculty member at the School of Nursing. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on research, psychiatric nursing and health promotion, and served as the Vice Chair and Interim Chair of the School’s Department of Health and Community Systems where she currently holds the position of coordinator of the psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist area. She also holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Psychiatry in Pitt’s School of Medicine.

Prior to joining Pitt, Dr. Puskar worked as a mental health clinic administrator, a private practice psychotherapist, and a neuroscience nurse. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Duquesne University; as well as her Master’s in Psychiatric Nursing, Master’s in Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Puskar’s research explores stress, coping, substance use, depression, and medication adherence in adolescent and young adult populations. She is currently the project director of a study on Inter-professional Collaborative Practice (IPCP): Targeting Substance Use in Rural Populations funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health & Human Services. She has also been the principal investigator for two grants from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health regarding Interventions to Promote Mental Health in Rural Youth as well as Anger Assessment in Rural Youth.

She is a past recipient of the Pennsylvania Nightingale Award for Research, recognizing her contribution to nursing research on the promotion of mental health for women and adolescents who experience stressful life events. She was also honored with the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Research Award. She has published over 100 articles in the professional literature and provided multiple national and international presentations. Dr. Puskar has been inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a select group of nursing leaders in education, management, practice and research. She was also the Past President of the national organization of psychiatric nurses, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Her psychosocial intervention, Teaching Kids to Cope, has been selected for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which reviews interventions based on the criteria of quality, dissemination, and translation of research.