In its annual year-end issue, Virginia Business named Dean Marianne Baernholdt to its list of “Top 100 People to Meet in 2023.”
Baernholdt—the Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing, a first-generation college attendee, and a fierce advocate for healthy work environments—is a leading scholar of care quality and safety with an emphasis on healthcare in rural and global environments who has dedicated the expanse of her award-winning nursing career to teaching and mentoring students and junior faculty.
She arrived as UVA School of Nursing’s seventh dean in August 2022.
UVA “needs to make it easier for nurses to consider graduate studies in the first place—financially, schedule-, and course-wise.”Dean Marianne Baernholdt
Though early in her tenure, Baernholdt has set her sights on thoughtfully and strategically expanding the School’s undergraduate and graduate student populations, determining ways to encourage more working nurses to consider graduate degrees, and attracting and educating more nursing faculty at the School—a critical need that has limited nursing’s ability to expand to surging needs at the bedside, on the unit, in the lab, and classroom.
“In the U.S., we are turning away about 80,000 students every year who want to be nurses,” she said, in part due to too few clinical practice placements in area community health centers and too few nursing faculty to teach and mentor students. Baernholdt also said that UVA “needs to make it easier for nurses to consider graduate student in the first place—financially, schedule, and course-wise,” and is examining new modalities and financial support systems to better aid their return to the learning space while also working.
Baernholdt has also kick-started a new strategic planning process—the first in more than 15 years—to map the School’s vision, mission, and path forward through 2030, and has launched a new Messaging Task Force to reimagine and improve the inclusiveness of physical spaces. A new series of “Breakfasts with the Dean” have aided in this work, as has her close proximity to fellow UVA Health leaders Kathy Baker, chief nursing officer at UVA Health, Dr. Craig Kent, executive vice president for health affairs at UVA Health, and Wendy Horton, UVA Health’s CEO.
Baernholdt was a founding director of UNC Chapel Hill’s Pan American Health Organization/W.H.O. Collaborating Center in Quality and Safety Education in Nursing and Midwifery and founder and director of VCU School of Nursing’s Langston Center for Quality, Safety, and Innovation. During her first tenure at UVA School of Nursing (2005-2014), she directed the Rural and Global Healthcare Center and led its Global Initiatives.
A former U.S. representative for the International Council of Nurses’ steering group for rural and remote nursing, Baernholdt earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Pace, and the Bispebjerg School of Nursing in her native Denmark.
The Virginia Business list—which includes innovators from Virginia across 10 categories, including educators, angels, builders, go-getters, hosts, impact makers, innovators, new folks, public faces, and rain makers—also includes UVA student and a member of the class of 2026 Evan Niel, founder of the nonprofit “Planting Shade,” which, to date, has planted more than 12,000 trees from the U.S. to Costa Rica.