Connell School of Nursing Associate Professor Andrew Dwyer, a board-certified family nurse practitioner whose research addresses inequities in genomic healthcare, has been chosen as a Macy Faculty Scholar by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

The Macy Faculty Scholars program identifies and nurtures promising educators in medicine and nursing. Scholars participate in a two-year program where they implement an educational scholarly project of their own design at their institution and participate in career development activities. Scholars become part of the Macy Faculty Scholars network and receive mentoring and career advice from a National Advisory Committee and past scholars. Dwyer is one of only two nurses selected in the 2023 cohort, which draws applicants from a nationwide pool.

Andrew Dwyer

CSON Associate Professor Andrew Dwyer (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

“I’m really honored to have been selected as a Macy Faculty Scholar,” said Dwyer. “The Macy Foundation is unique because it is focused on capacity-building through education. It enables educators to turn their teaching into scholarship to really advance the field.

“As a clinician, you impact the lives of the patients, families, and communities you directly serve,” Dwyer continued. “But as a faculty member, you’re reaching hundreds of students—thousands over the lifespan of your career—who are each going to take care of thousands of people a year. If you spin that out, you are potentially impacting millions of people by shaping the training and educational experience of those who come through the School of Nursing.”

Dwyer’s area of expertise is in genomics. He says that while genomics is rightfully credited with fueling precision healthcare, giving a deeper understanding health and illness, speeding diagnoses, and developing tailored treatments, there are a number of challenges and problems in the genomics era, including limited numbers of clinicians with genomic competencies as well as numerous ethical, legal, and social implications.

“Not all populations have benefitted equally from the discoveries of genomics. My feeling is that nurses can play a key role in bridging disparities in genomic healthcare.”

Dwyer’s project is to develop, implement, and evaluate novel approaches to teaching genomic competencies to advanced practices nurses. The project will use simulations—structured patient encounters—where students undergo pre-learning, interact with the patient, and undergo a debriefing helping them consolidate their learning and develop skills.

“This is intended to improve confidence, knowledge, and comfort for the providers, improve the quality of care they deliver, and decrease errors,” said Dwyer, who added that to his knowledge, there are no genomic simulations currently being used in the United States.

“The aim is to develop and validate these simulations and then disseminate it broadly as an exemplar,” said Dwyer, who has professional connections with the Global Genomic Nursing Alliance, International Society of Nurses in Genetics, and the NIH. “We want to change and shape clinical practice.”

“Not all populations have benefitted equally from the discoveries of genomics. My feeling is that nurses can play a key role in bridging disparities in genomic healthcare.”
Connell School Associate Professor and 2023 Macy Faculty Scholar andrew dwyer

“That’s why it is really exciting to part of the Macy Faculty Scholars community,” he continued. “You’re able to draw on the knowledge and wisdom of these experts who can offer support, give critical feedback, and help you disseminate findings to increase the impact of your project.”

"With this faculty scholar support of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, Dr. Dwyer will fundamentally reshape the future of nursing education to bridge disparities in genomic healthcare,” said CSON Barry Family/Goldman Sachs Endowed Chair in Nursing Christopher Sean Lee, who will serve as Dwyer’s institutional mentor. “This highly competitive and interdisciplinary funding will serve as a significant catalyst to further advance Dr. Dwyer’s impact in this area, and at the same time help raise to new heights the important research being done at the Connell School of Nursing."

Other mentors and advisors for Dwyer’s project are BC Professor of Communication Ashley Duggan; Cassie Buck (Genetic Counseling Dept., Brandeis University); Mike Talkowski (Mass General Hospital/Broad Institute); Shoumita Dasgupta (Boston University School of Medicine); Marshall Summar (Children's National Hospital); Kathy Calzone (National Cancer Institute); and Maria Katapodi (University of Basel, Switzerland).

“The 2023 class of Macy Faculty Scholars are exemplary educators with potential to positively influence the next generation of learners in the health professions,” said Dr. Holly J. Humphrey, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the only national foundation dedicated solely to improving the education of health professionals. “We are excited to see how this remarkable group, both as individuals and as a cohort, will shape the future of health professions education through their innovative work and promise as leaders.”

Kathleen Sullivan | University Communications | March 2023