Hoover calls SON dean role ‘greatest privilege of my life’
Published on Thursday, December 6, 2018
By: Kate Royals
After 15 years at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Kim Hoover, dean of the School of Nursing, will retire on Dec. 17.
She’s not going home, though, or even leaving the full-time world. And her new job at the Mississippi Hospital Association will allow her to continue working with the School of Nursing and the Medical Center.
When asked what she’s most proud of in her nearly 10 years as dean, it’s not an item from a long list of high-profile accomplishments. That list includes, but is not limited to, adding three nurse-practitioner managed clinics in underserved areas of Jackson and Sharkey and Issaquena counties, overseeing the purchase of the UNACARE Midtown Mobile Clinic in Jackson and expanding the accelerated nursing program to the Oxford campus of the University of Mississippi.
The list also includes doubling enrollment from 427 to 850 students and leading the School’s faculty and students in providing more than 55,000 service hours worth $1.3 million since 2014.
She also oversaw the first national accreditation for the Mississippi Education Consortium for Specialized Advanced Practice Nursing and the development of a School of Nursing/Information and Quality Healthcare Patient Safety Fellowship. During her tenure as dean, the School added two nurse practitioner graduate programs in neonatal and pediatric acute and primary care, the only two such programs in Mississippi.
But she’s most proud of her people.
“I’m proud of the faculty, our staff, our students, our alumni. They’re all over the place doing wonderful things,” Hoover said. “And people here are probably working harder than they’ve ever worked, and I honestly believe they’re happier than they’ve been in a long time because they’re doing what they know is the right thing to do and (are) working for the greater good.
“I guess what makes me proudest is when I leave, all that’s going to continue because it’s not about me – it’s about them.”
At the School’s 70th anniversary last month, Dr. LouAnn Woodward, associate vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, praised Hoover on a professional and personal level.
“The emphasis she’s had on quality in the school, reaching out in the state and growing leaders has been hand in glove with the objectives and goals of the institution,” Woodward told the group of faculty, staff, students and alumni at the event. “She’s been somebody that for me has been a wonderful colleague, a person who gives me wise counsel and a friend.”
Dr. Ralph Didlake, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, described the work Hoover has done as “stellar.”
At her retirement reception in December, Dr. Patrick Smith, chief faculty affairs officer, said he knew from the moment he met her at a commencement ceremony more than a decade ago “she had the right stuff.”
Smith added, “and here we are, 10 years later, celebrating her leadership.”
At the emotional reception, her colleagues described her as everything from “the perfect boss” to an amazingly compassionate and supportive friend. Dr. Mary Stewart, who will act as interim dean after Hoover leaves, has been a friend since their days in graduate school 25 years ago.
She teared up recalling how her friend stayed with her mother in the hospital after she died until she was able to get there. She is a “kind, compassionate, caring person” and, although she was hesitant at first about having her friend as a boss, “the best boss I’ve ever had.”
While most at the Medical Center know her as an administrator, it was her days as a nurse at Natchez Regional Medical Center that would lead Hoover to the role she is in today. After finishing nursing school, she worked the 3-11 p.m. shift on the medical surgical unit taking care of post-operative patients.
She and one other nurse cared for 16 patients at a time, and recovering from surgery was different in the mid-1980s than it is today.
“We had patients who stayed longer rather than in and out. If someone had major surgery, they literally were cut from one side to the other … you get to know their families,” she said.
She recalls a 100-year-old woman with gangrene who needed her foot amputated but wouldn’t allow it. “She said she came into the world with that foot and was leaving the world with that foot. And she left the world with that foot,” Hoover remembered.
When she was asked to lead the ambulatory care unit, she realized going back to school was in her future.
“I realized I didn’t have the skills I needed to deal with these people who were my friends with whom I worked side by side not as their manager,” she said.
She started her Master’s of Science in Nursing at the Medical Center and halfway through the program was asked by Alcorn State University to consider teaching. She went on to teach on the Natchez campus for nine years, completing her master’s degree and later getting her PhD in Clinical Health Sciences at UMMC.
She said she “absolutely loved teaching.”
She even had the opportunity to teach someone very special: her mother, who started nursing school at 50 years old after losing both of her twin sisters to breast cancer.
“When we talk about it, neither of us can figure out who had the worst time (when she was her student) – she swears it was her, but I said, you know, it wasn’t that easier for me either,” Hoover said with a laugh. “I had her in class, and she would raise her hand – what do you say, ‘Momma?’”
Hoover has come a long way since her days at Alcorn, having served in several associate dean positions at the Medical Center.
She was also instrumental in building the Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce, one of the most active and widely cited nursing centers in the country, and worked there in different capacities for almost nine years. During her time there she gathered, analyzed and disseminated nursing workforce data and worked with other organizations to secure pay raises for nursing faculty.
But it is the role she’s saying goodbye to that is “the greatest privilege” of her life, she said.