May 18, 2023

Susan Reinhard Welcomes Rutgers University Nursing School Graduates to Esteemed Profession

On Thursday, May 18, Susan C. Reinhard, RN, PhD, FAAN, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute & Chief Strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America and Family Caregiving Initiatives, delivered the commencement address to Rutgers University – College of Nursing graduates.

Dr. Reinhard received her PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University in 1991 after earning her Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Cincinnati. Previously, she served as professor and co-director of Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, where she directed several national initiatives with states to help people of all ages with disabilities live in their communities. She is also a former faculty member at the Rutgers College of Nursing.

Below are excerpts from Dr. Reinhard’s address, delivered at NJPAC in Newark, NJ.

Dean Flynn, Chancellor Strom, faculty and colleagues, honored guests, families and friends, and members of the graduating class of 2023. Let me begin by saying congratulations!

Before I turn my full attention to you, graduates, I want to acknowledge the families, friends and other supporters here today to share this happy moment. Some of you paid tuition, babysat or cooked dinner. And you provided critical emotional support or just lent an ear when needed. You should never underestimate the value of what you have given to your graduates.

Some of you are getting your baccalaureate in nursing, others a master’s degree, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Philosophy, School Nurse Certificate or Post Master’s Certificate. Whichever path you have chosen, I commend you for the investment you have made to become members of this esteemed profession.

You can practice, teach, or do research in hospitals, homes, schools, workplaces, clinics, the military, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, managed care organizations, prisons, homeless shelters, senior citizen centers, mental health settings, private offices and park benches.

You can also be a public health, critical care, psychiatric, school, perioperative, or rehabilitation nurse.

You can be health policy experts, advanced practice nurses, educators, researchers, managers, Chief Executive Officers, Deans or Chancellors… or University Presidents! You can even run for Congress or the state legislature. Several nurses are already serving in Congress and many more are making policy in state legislatures across the country. So, why not a nurse in the Oval Office one day!

You can be proud that nurses offer a model of care that consumers want. And we have always been ahead of our time. Nurses were focused on prevention and wellness long before it was in vogue.

But most important, we have always worked in true partnership with patients. We don’t try to dazzle or intimidate people with our expertise. Instead, we use our knowledge, skills, and communication abilities to balance the power relationship between us and those seeking our help. Nurses use their complex knowledge in the sciences and humanities to care for people as whole human beings.

This is the nursing model.

As a nurse, we have the privilege of touching the very souls of people in our everyday work. There is no other way I can find to describe the honored work of nursing. You will never need to search for meaning in your work. It will find you every day.

And you will be held in high esteem. Countless research surveys and opinion polls document that you are part of a profession that is cherished by the public and trusted by the young and old alike.

By pursuing a nursing career, you will know that you are in a truly distinguished profession where you are really needed. There’s really no career like it. 


Photo credit: Lynn McFarlane