New Face at Polk State

Inaugural AdventHealth Dean of Nursing Talks About Making Difference


A $1.7 million endowment to the Polk State College Foundation sparked the creation of an AdventHealth Dean of Nursing position at Polk State College. 

Dr. Deleise Wilson, who has three decades of clinical, academic, and leadership experience, is the first to serve in that role.

As the inaugural Dean of Nursing at Polk State, Wilson’s responsibilities include providing visionary leadership for curriculum revision and program evaluation as well as serving as the liaison between the school and healthcare partners, community agencies, and state, regional, and national organizations.

She also will be mentoring faculty and working closely with student leadership teams, such as the Florida Student Nurses Association.

“Polk State College is grateful for AdventHealth’s partnership and investment in our Nursing Program,” said Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, President of Polk State College. “We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Wilson, who will provide critical support for our growing program, which is a direct response to the growing need for highly skilled nurses in our community.”

Advent Health is a nonprofit healthcare system with hundreds of hospital campuses and care sites throughout nine U.S. states.

“Together with our nursing faculty and staff, we will maximize the philanthropic support from AdventHealth to fully integrate simulation into our curriculum, which will make our program competitive,” Wilson says. “As a department, we recognize we have the capacity and talent to make the Polk State Nursing Program the leading choice for nursing in the county and beyond.”

A native of Guyana, South America, Wilson’s educational journey includes degrees from the Northern Caribbean University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan.

“Polk State College serves Polk County by providing education to more than 20,000 students of very diverse backgrounds,” Wilson says. “I can make a difference in the lives of these students, particularly nursing students.”

Wilson says she was attracted to the school in part because of the vision of the school’s president and provost, Dr. Amy Bratton, to make the Nursing Program the choice for students in Polk County.

“I was also impressed with the history of academic excellence provided by the nursing faculty,” she says. “The students are consistently meeting and exceeding program outcomes such as first-time pass rates for the NCLEX-RN examination.”

Currently, Polk State nursing graduates have a first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam of nearly 91 percent, significantly higher than the state (64 percent) and national (82 percent) averages.

Wilson’s clinical expertise is in pediatric critical care, and she has served as a pediatric medical-surgical and emergency room staff nurse. Her doctoral training was in system effectiveness with post-doctoral training in implementation science. 

“Professionally, my preparation for the role was robust,” she says. “However, what shaped my ability to be a leader was the lessons culled from watching and working alongside great leaders in the past.”

“Over the years, I learned that to be a leader, I should always seek to be present, cautious, understanding, and pensive while interacting with faculty, staff, and students.” 

She says there is a projected shortage across the country of more than 78,000 registered nurses by 2025. Florida will need more than 60,000 nurses by 2035 to meet the state’s projected healthcare needs as per the Florida Hospital Association. 

“In Polk County, 70 percent of hospitals are experiencing critical staffing shortages,” Wilson says. “Each nurse that graduates from Polk State College is an immediate solution to the nursing crisis. Within the next few years, we will be increasing our enrollment by 10 percent.”

Wilson extols the virtues of continuing education for nurses saying, “nursing education is a lifelong experience, especially given the fact that nursing care can be highly specialized.”

“I am constantly seeking opportunities to participate in cutting-edge innovations in nursing education and nursing research,” she continues. “I will be teaming with members from several of our healthcare partners each semester to engage in robust discussions about the state of healthcare within their settings.”

Wilson says nurses provide care when patients are most vulnerable. 

“Behind the highly complex and tight coupling of the delivery of healthcare, nurses have opportunities to provide invigorating restorative care, reassurance when hope is fading, motivation in the face of doubt, a touch of comfort, and potential possibilities for better futures,” she says.

“Often through the mechanism of patient education, nurses strive to make the world a better place for individuals and communities.”

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