Dr. Eileen K. Fry-Bowers: Nurturing Health and Empowering Communities


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Dr. Eileen K. Fry-Bowers is a distinguished academic leader in the field of nursing and health professions, currently serving as the Dean and Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions. With a rich background in academia and administration, she brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. Before joining the University of San Francisco, Dr. Fry-Bowers held esteemed positions at the University Of San Diego Hahn School Of Nursing and Health Science, as well as the Office of the Provost.

Throughout her career, Dr. Fry-Bowers has held faculty and leadership appointments in various prestigious institutions, including Schools of Nursing, Medicine, and Public Health. She has extensive experience teaching a diverse range of courses across all levels of nursing education and graduate-level public health. Her dedication to the field and her commitment to education are evident in her notable achievements.

Dr. Fry-Bowers is recognized as an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a testament to her outstanding contributions and accomplishments in nursing. She has also served as the Chair of the Expert Panel on Children, Adolescents, and Families, highlighting her commitment to improving the well-being and healthcare outcomes of vulnerable populations.

In addition to her academic and leadership roles, Dr. Fry-Bowers is actively engaged in scholarly publishing. She holds editorial board positions in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Pediatric Health Care and Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice. Her expertise and insights have been recognized, as she recently served as the Guest Editor for a special issue on the impact of COVID-19 on children and youth with special healthcare needs, published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care in March 2023.

Forging an Academic Odyssey

Dr. Fry-Bowers has an impressive educational background that has provided her with a comprehensive understanding of nursing, health services, law, and policy. She obtained her bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude, from Loma Linda University School of Nursing, which laid the foundation for her nursing career.

Continuing her academic pursuits, Dr. Fry-Bowers earned her master’s degree from the University Of Rochester School Of Nursing, further enhancing her expertise in the field. Her commitment to academic excellence is evident as she graduated summa cum laude from Whittier Law School, where she received her Juris Doctor. During her time at Whittier Law School, she was recognized with the Dean’s Citation Award for her exceptional service to the law school community and the public.

Driven by a passion for research and advancing nursing knowledge, Dr. Fry-Bowers pursued a Ph.D. at UCLA School of Nursing, specializing in health services. Her academic achievements were recognized through a Chancellor’s Fellowship and being named a University of California Regents Scholar. Her doctoral research focused on the association of maternal health literacy with the structures, processes, and outcomes of care in pediatric populations, highlighting her dedication to improving healthcare delivery and outcomes for children.

To further expand her expertise and delve deeper into research, Dr. Fry-Bowers completed a federally funded post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA, focusing on the care of vulnerable populations with an emphasis on child health policy. This fellowship allowed her to gain valuable insights and contribute to research efforts aimed at addressing the unique healthcare needs of vulnerable children.

Creating an Equitable and Transformative Healthcare Landscape

As the Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions (USF SONHP), Dr. Fry-Bowers is pivotal in leading and shaping the institution’s vision, initiatives, and academic programs. Her overarching commitment is to foster collaboration among individuals, families, and community stakeholders to drive transformative change in healthcare and eliminate health inequities. Dean Fry-Bowers has led a collaboration with a local Safety Net hospital to have students deep dive into their services and be able to join these institutions as agents of change.

In her role, Dr. Fry-Bowers recognizes the importance of intentional action in creating a workforce that supports the development, promotion, and maintenance of optimal mental, physical, and spiritual health for individuals. She understands that achieving this goal requires addressing not only individual health needs but also the structural and political barriers that hinder progress. In the Fall, Dean Fry-Bowers took five BSN and MSN students to Capitol Hill to learn how to advocate for health care. By acknowledging these barriers and working to dismantle them, Dr. Fry-Bowers aims to create an inclusive and equitable healthcare system that benefits all members of society.

As Dean, Dr. Fry-Bowers assumes a diverse range of responsibilities to advance the mission of the USF SONHP. She provides strategic leadership and guidance, overseeing the academic programs and ensuring their alignment with the institution’s goals and values. Dr. Fry-Bowers collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to promote an environment conducive to learning, research, and professional growth.

Dr. Fry-Bowers plays a crucial role in advocating for change at both the institutional and systemic levels. She seeks to shift the conversation surrounding healthcare from a mere focus on delivering care to one that emphasizes the development of health and the elimination of health inequities. By challenging traditional models and mindsets, she encourages innovation and creative thinking within the field of nursing and the health professions.

Navigating the Pathways to Better Health

Dr. Fry-Bowers’ current research encompasses a broad range of topics within the domains of child and family health as well as the nursing profession. Her research interests can be categorized into three primary areas, each addressing crucial aspects of healthcare and policy.

Firstly, Dr. Fry-Bowers focuses on examining the impact of social policies on child and family health and well-being. She delves into the complex interplay between social policies, such as those related to healthcare access, education, and social support systems, and their effects on the health outcomes and overall well-being of children and families. By investigating the connections between policy decisions and health disparities, she seeks to identify ways to improve social policies to promote better health outcomes for vulnerable populations.

Secondly, Dr. Fry-Bowers explores the impact of legislative and regulatory changes on the delivery of pediatric health services. She investigates how changes in laws and regulations at local, state, and national levels shape the provision of healthcare for children. This research helps shed light on potential challenges, barriers, and opportunities that arise from legislative and regulatory shifts, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the delivery of pediatric health services and improving outcomes for children and their families.

Thirdly, Dr. Fry-Bowers investigates healthcare workforce education, practice, legal, and ethical issues, particularly regarding the care of vulnerable and underserved populations. Her research in this area addresses various dimensions of the healthcare workforce, including education and training, professional practice, legal frameworks, and ethical considerations. By examining these issues, she seeks to identify strategies and best practices that can enhance the care provided to vulnerable and underserved populations, ensuring equitable access to high-quality healthcare services.

Dr. Fry-Bowers’ research interests reflect her commitment to promoting child and family health as well as her dedication to advancing the nursing profession. By exploring the intersection of social policies, legislation, workforce education, and ethical considerations, she contributes to the evidence base that informs policy-making, healthcare delivery, and nursing practice. Her research aims to generate insights and recommendations that address the unique needs and challenges faced by vulnerable populations, ultimately striving for equitable and accessible healthcare for all.

From Dean’s Desk

“At the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions, we are not satisfied with pursuing health equity. We’re pursuing health justice.”

In classrooms, clinics, and labs, faculty and students are ensuring access to care within underserved communities, improving mental health and wellness for at-risk populations, addressing corruption in health care, increasing understanding to mitigate gun violence, exploring access to vaccinations, and determining the social and environmental predictors of high-risk alcohol drinking among college students.

“Working with more than 160 Bay Area healthcare organizations, our students learn to serve patients with compassion and work to improve the health of whole populations.”

On our campus, in her biannual Dean’s Series, we celebrate those who pursue diversity and inclusion in health care. Last November, we honored Mrs. Willard Harris, the first African American Chief Nursing Officer in California, and pledged our commitment to carrying on her legacy. In April, at our annual Crawford Lecture, Dr. Jennifer Arnold shared her insights on creating and sustaining a culture of inclusivity in the health professions.

The College of Arts and Sciences is collaborating to create the Campus for Life Science and Health Equity, which will benefit all USF students in the School of Nursing and Health Professions (SONHP). This initiative will facilitate teaching, research, and practice across various programs.

“At the USF School of Nursing and Health Professions, we implement the AACN Essentials: Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education in our way, grounding our curriculum in the Jesuit tradition. We are pursuing health as a human right. We are changing the world’s health through our engagement with each student, each patient, each project, each internship, each capstone, each dissertation, and each research study. We are agents of change!”


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