Dean and Professor
University of South Carolina
Peggy O'Neill Hewlett has over 30 years experience in nursing education, administration, practice and consultation. Since 2005 she has served as Dean and Professor of Nursing at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing in Columbia. Prior to that, she was Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Doctoral Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) School of Nursing in Jackson – the state's only academic health sciences center. A Savannah, Georgia native, she earned BSN and MSN degrees from the Medical College of Georgia, and a PhD in higher education and leadership from the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Hewlett has spent most of her career championing issues and policies that help guarantee the public an educated and adequate nursing workforce. She is a nationally recognized expert on academic/service partnerships, which she believes are critical toward solving the challenges facing today's healthcare system. It is from this perspective that she has assumed a key leadership role in assisting stakeholders throughout South Carolina in the development of "One Voice, One Plan" – a collaborative plan outlining a specific set of strategies leading to a coordinated and comprehensive state-wide nursing workforce plan. This initiative resulted in the South Carolina Critical Nursing Needs Act which was signed into law July, 2007.
Other examples of Hewlett's work in this arena include establishing the Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce, which has influenced not only her state but is regularly cited as one of the most successful workforce projects in the country; and implementing a statewide supply and demand forecasting model that is replicable across disciplines and is used to provide accurate data to health policy and planning experts.
In 2000, Dr. Hewlett was selected for a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship – a prestigious program for individuals demonstrating the potential to lead and shape the U.S. healthcare system of the future. As an RWJ Fellow, she convened and directed a talented research team in a review of the major workforce reports – the starting point in a work trajectory that has resulted in:
•the widely cited "Call to Action" published in the American Journal of Nursing;•a replicable research methodology for analyzing complex workforce reports that can be built upon as additional reports emerge;•a framework around which coordinated comprehensive strategies addressing and solving the shortage can be developed at the local, state, regional and national levels;•expert testimony for HRSA as a part of the Division of Nursing's recommendations to the U.S. Congress on workforce policy;•co-authoring the 2004 workforce synthesis article, "Dissipating the "Perfect Storm" – Responses from Nursing and the Healthcare Industry to Protect the Public's Health";