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Dr. Antonia Villarruel is the advisory board chair for the 2021 AL DÍA Top Nurses Forum & Awards event. Graphic: AL DÍA News. 
Dr. Antonia Villarruel is the advisory board chair for the 2021 AL DÍA Top Nurses Forum & Awards event. Graphic: AL DÍA News. 

Dr. Antonia Villarruel, advancing the top nursing school in the world

As Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Dr. Villarruel has made it a priority to promote excellence, innovation and diversity. 

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Since being appointed the Dean of the University of the Pennsylvania School of Nursing in 2014, Dr. Antonia Villarruel has strived to maintain and advance the school’s prestige. 

Ranked the number one nursing school in the world for four consecutive years and near the top for over a half decade, Penn Nursing has a reputation for advancing science and delivering solutions, shaping policy and practice, and engaging communities to promote health.

After previously pursuing and earning her master of science in nursing degree at Penn Nursing in 1982, Villarruel returned to the school more than 30 years later to lead it for the new generation of nursing students. 

Throughout her tenure as Dean of the Penn School of Nursing, Dr. Villarruel has made it her goal to exceed the school’s research mission, but with an eye towards social justice, innovation, and ensuring that nurses are being recognized for their work. 

That has been her approach from the very beginning and it has grown with each year, especially this past one. 

“The pandemic has accelerated our needs to do what we’re doing,” said Dean Villarruel.

She noted how the pandemic has further prioritized the mission, as nurses and nursing students at all levels are making sure that it is addressed.

“That means working in partnership with communities, and working with their health systems and making sure we advance the quality care that we need to,” Villarruel added. 

Penn Nursing has looked to find new, innovative ways to ensure that the solutions can be found, and Villarruel is able to lead that charge using her extensive background as both a nurse and researcher.

Throughout her career in the profession, the opportunity to help others has been the most fulfilling aspect of her work. 

Dr. Villarruel is the advisory board chair for the upcoming AL DÍA Top Nurses Forum & Awards, with a strong stance that the nursing profession should more closely reflect the population that is being served.

“With diversity, we need to make sure that our schools and healthcare settings are inclusive of the contributions that our nurses make in order for them to lead in making the changes so that we’re all better responsive to the populations that we serve,” she said.

As a bilingual and bicultural nurse-researcher herself, she understands the value it has had for her throughout her career and she works to further the cause through advocacy. 

“I think as a nursing profession, if we are advocates for our patients and for our communities, we have to demonstrate that same level of commitment by making sure that our education is open to diverse students and practitioners,” said Dean Villarruel. 

The 2021 AL DÍA Top Nurses Forum & Awards will take place Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. For ticket and registration information, click here

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