In late July, Barbara Manz Friesth, PhD, RN was appointed as Interim Director of Indiana University’s (IU) Interprofessional Practice and Education Center. Dr. Friesth became a member of the IU community as a doctoral student in the nineties. After receiving her PhD, she continued her career in academia and returned to IU in 2006. As a faculty member of IU’s School of Nursing (IUSON), Dr. Friesth has played a pivotal role in elevating the curriculum with the use of various learning technologies and simulation practices.

In 2006, Dr. Friesth joined the IU School of Nursing as a Clinical Associate Professor and the Director of Learning Resources. The moment she stepped onto the IU campus as a faculty member she began impacting those around her. Dr. Friesth worked closely with the architects and construction team, representing IUSON during the building phase of the Resource Center for Innovation in Clinical Nursing Education (RCICNE) a state-of-the-art learning lab that supports the mission of IUSON. This $2.1 million-dollar project saw the extensive, 10,000-square-feet renovation of the third floor at the IUSON building. As a leader of this project, Dr. Friesth helped transform the space into a learning lab for faculty and students. The lab has a practice area, which contains 10 cubicles that resemble an acute care hospital room. Additionally, it has six physical exam rooms, similar to what you would encounter in a Nurse Practitioner or physician’s office. Lastly, the lab has four simulation rooms. The lab opened in May 2008 and continues to be an essential learning space for nursing students and faculty.

In addition to IUSON’s renovation, Dr. Friesth was involved with the construction of Fairbanks’ 30,000-square-feet simulation center. IUSON, IU School of Medicine, and IU Health were partners in the simulation center’s development and build. Though the size between the two spaces varied, Dr. Friesth’s leadership and insight helped Fairbanks build a robust learning lab that trains and equips health sciences students with the skills they need to be successful clinicians. Ever since the construction, Dr. Friesth has remained involved. Initially, she was a member of the Operations team for five years and then transitioned into an Executive Board member role. Dr. Friesth is one of two members from the original development and build team who actively serves on the Fairbanks Simulation Center Executive Board.

With Dr. Friesth’s expertise in learning technologies, she serves as the Co-Director for the Encouraging Learning, Innovation and Technology Excellence (ELITE) Center at IUSON. Dr. Friesth focuses on creating and developing new technologies for faculty to facilitate distance learning. She wrote a book chapter, “Teaching and Learning at a Distance,” in Diane Billings and Judith Halstead’s, Teaching in Nursing: A Guide for Faculty (Sixth Edition). This book is most selected for the Master’s in Nursing Education curriculum across the country. With Dr. Friesth’s dedication and expertise, she has been involved with two Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants related to distance education instruction. Additionally, Dr. Friesth works with doctoral students who are interested in this field of distance education, active learning strategies, and simulation as a Dissertation Committee Chair or Member.

Dr. Friesth’s leadership extends beyond the IU community. She was invited to be a faculty member with Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Leadership Academy. Dr. Friesth was a member for six-years running cohorts of typically, junior faculty members through a leadership program. This program was not only open to faculty members within the U.S. but also internationally. The focus of the program was to empower junior faculty members to be successful in their careers and to be positioned well to assume leadership roles. Through this program, Dr. Friesth was not only able to share about her experience but it also gave her better insight into her own leadership. She noted, “It was a great opportunity for me to help and give back to junior faculty. But then, the take-back was I grew myself.” Dr. Friesth has held various leadership roles at IU, specifically at the university-level, such as the technology committee for many years. She commented that these roles have been memorable because she is able to step out of her nursing silo and connect with other colleagues at IU.

Though her role at the IPE Center is new, interprofessional education and practice is not. Early in her career as a staff nurse, specifically in oncology and stem cell transplant field, she worked on high functioning teams. Dr. Friesth said, “All long I have been a very big advocate for interprofessional team-based care. It’s just the nature of my practice and has been an outgrowth of the work I have been able to engage in at the university.” By having such interprofessional practice experience, Dr. Friesth’s insights to IU IPE’s foundational curriculum, TEACH!, will be invaluable.

As IU has started its academic year in late August, Dr. Friesth looks forward to working with stakeholders involved in interprofessional practice and education across the state of Indiana. Increasing engagement will allow IU IPE to continue to deliver the highest quality curriculum and practice opportunities to students and faculty. With an academic year looking different than ever before, Dr. Friesth noted, “At the end of the day we’d all like to know we make a difference. I would like IPE to have that impact on our students, and they walk away excited about team-based care and understand the impact on patient safety.”

Dr. Friesth and the rest of IU IPE looks forward to working closely with students, faculty, and staff across the state to deliver valuable and impactful experiences.