Courtney Lyder, Dean of UCLA School of Nursing

Profiles in Nursing

Courtney Lyder, Dean of UCLA School of Nursing

His vision for the future

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Sometimes afternoon interviews drag. The “gnawlies” from a missed lunch or the yawns from an overly indulgent one can creep up. Not so when you speak to Courtney Lyder in the middle of the day. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious and palpable, even over the phone. He loves nursing and almost dares anyone to think differently.

This devotion to our profession is a wonderful trait, because his job as Dean of UCLA School of Nursing is busy and complicated in a profession becoming even more complex. But Dr. Lyder has taken the pulse of virtually every issue facing nursing today, and he means to confront them head on.

Landmark Research

He earned his nursing degrees from Rush University. There, at the age of 19, he was introduced to research by participating in the landmark studies out of which came the Braden Scale for Assessing Pressure Sore Risk. Since then, Dr. Lyder has continued as an internationally recognized nursing researcher concentrating on skin care, along with patient safety and elder care.

Within the past 15 years he has been the lead investigator for more than $12 million in research and training grants. Several of his articles outline the particular skincare needs of people of color, and his most recent contribution has been the nursing science research that supports the federal government’s policies related to elder care and safety in hospitals.

Dr. Lyder has also made his mark as an administrator. After stints at Yale and the University of Virginia, he now leads one of the most prestigious schools in the country. He is currently focused on two major issues facing nursing.

Important Trends

First is the absolute need to recognize that the hospital is no longer going to be the center of nursing care. Nurses of the future need to be prepared to function in less acute settings where nurse practitioners will provide the bulk of primary care for a diverse population.

Nurses of the future also need to remain “high touch” while they become “hi-tech.” To support that goal, “fully-apped” iPod Touch instruments were given to recent nursing graduates.

Dr. Lyder believes the practice of nursing must be evidence-based; to that end, fully one-third of the faculty have degrees in sciences other than nursing. This situation, Dr. Lyder, says, is not without controversy, but the interdisciplinary turn is vital to produce nurses whose practice must be scientifically based.

Mentoring is another subject dear to Dr. Lyder. He also has a special interest in seeing that more men and minorities enter nursing and proudly hopes that by 2020, if the local chapter of Men in Nursing has anything to say about it, 20 percent of the nursing population will be male.

At UCLA, the undergraduate nursing candidates are already a richly diverse group reflecting the population they will serve. The program has an attrition rate that would be the envy of any dean — namely zero — and everyone graduates on time in four years. Quite a record to maintain but no one who speaks to Dr. Lyder has any doubt he can do it. 


Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN is a Working Nurse staff writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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